November 24 (Reuters) – The United States marked Thanksgiving on Thursday with traditional feasts, parades and American football, taking the moment to celebrate a week marred by gun violence.
The official holiday dates back to the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November a day of gratitude and seeking healing. American schoolchildren are learning to associate the holiday with the pilgrims who landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and celebrated the fall harvest with the Wampanoag peoples. Among Native Americans, Thanksgiving is a day of somber reflection on the genocide that followed.
This year, Americans mourned a couple of deadly gunfights. On Saturday, an attacker opened fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five people. On Tuesday, a Walmart employee shot and killed six colleagues and shot himself in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Those were just two of more than 600 mass shootings this year, according to the Archive of Gun Violence, using a definition of four or more shot or killed, not including the shooter.
President Joe Biden, after visiting a firehouse on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts to thank rescuers on Thanksgiving Day, told reporters he would try to enact some form of gun control before a new Congress convenes in January, possibly resuming its an attempt to ban assault weapons.
“The idea that we are still allowing the purchase of semi-automatic weapons is disgusting. She’s just disgusting. It has no social value, zero, none. There is no single justification for this, other than profit for arms manufacturers, ”Biden said. presumably referring to certain rifles, since many common and less lethal weapons are also semi-automatic.
Earlier, Biden called the hosts of New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a televised extravaganza of marching bands, floats and performances by stars, including Dionne Warwick, who sang the classic “What the World Needs Now.”
The Bidens continued the family tradition of meeting on Nantucket for Thanksgiving. The approach of the long holiday weekend usually sets off a travel frenzy, with scattered families gathering from across the country for holiday dinners.
Midnight after Thanksgiving also marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season, offering a snapshot of the state of the US economy.
American football, televised, serves as the backdrop for turkey dinners with many side dishes and desserts. On Thursday, the National Football League played three games.
Thanksgiving also sees an outpouring of donations to the poor and hungry, a task made more difficult by bird flu outbreaks that have wiped out about 8 million turkeys, making large birds more scarce and therefore more expensive this year. According to US government data, turkey meat production will fall 7% this year compared to 2021.
Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California; Additional report by Nandita Bowes in Nantucket, Massachusetts; Editing by Jonathan Oytis
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