Thursday, November 22, 2012

'A very Happy Thanksgiving' from Virginia's First Family

As we gather together with our families and friends, The McDonnell Family would like to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving and encourage you to take a few minutes to remember some of the many blessings for which we are so grateful.

As I reflect on this past year, I am thankful for so many things: my family, friends, and our wonderful country. And I am especially thankful for the incredible ongoing opportunity to serve as your Governor. I am so blessed for the trust you have placed in me and I look forward to my final year in office as we continue to build a Commonwealth of Opportunity for all Virginians. Click here to read my 2012 Thanksgiving Proclamation.

A significant part of Thanksgiving is remembering our shared Virginia tradtions. Yesterday, Maureen and I welcomed Chief Carl Custalow of the Mattaponi Tribe, Chief Kevin Brown of the Pamunkey Tribe, and other tribal members to the Governor’s Mansion to observe the 335th tax tribute ceremony. The ceremony is the oldest continuing nation-to-nation ceremony in the United States. 

After Bacon's Rebellion, the British Crown concluded a peace treaty with the Mattaponi and Pamunkey Indian tribes in 1677. In it, the British reserved certain lands for the tribes, “confirming to them their just Rights.” In return, the Native Americans and their posterity were to pay the royal governor a token every year in lieu of taxes.

In the tribute ceremony, tribal members honor their ancestors who negotiated the Treaty of Middle Plantation to preserve Virginia Indian lands and the rich heritage they enjoy to this day. In this year’s ceremony, Chief Carl Custalow presented us with a piece of pottery decorated with fish and turtles, a beaded feathered medicine bag and an eight point buck deer. Chief Kevin Brown presented a drum made by a Pamunkey artisan, a beaded barrette, and a deer. Drumming and dancing followed the presentation of gifts, led by Assistant Chief Mark Custalow. We also celebrated this years tribute knowing that as soon as next year, there will be a new monument on Capitol grounds – a tribute to Virginia Indians. The Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission recently voted on a design submitted by a Canadian Indian artist and fundraising has begun for the new monument here on the capitol grounds.

Essential in the history of Thanksgiving was the sharing of the harvest by Native Americans, allowing the early settlers to carry on through those harsh first winters in the New World. 

Now, in 2012, let us also join together as a community, commemorating our shared traditions and continuing to lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need. With that goal in mind, Maureen and I joined yesterday with Congressmen Eric Cantor and Bobby Scott and volunteered at the Central Virginia Food Bank. This organization works hard every day to ensure Virginia families are able to put food on their tables and I am so thankful for all the work they do. To learn how you can help hunger relief in Virginia please visit: Let’s all continue to do our part to bring blessings into the lives of those who need a little help during the holiday season.

Finally, this Thanksgiving I ask you to keep our country, and those who are fighting for our freedom abroad, in your thoughts and prayers. We owe these brave men and women, our veterans, and their families a deep appreciation that we will never be able to truly repay. It is because of their sacrifice that we here in Virginia can gather around the table in peace to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Today, Maureen and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. God has been so good to our Commonwealth. May we continue to give thanks everyday for all our blessings, and help each other in every way that we are able.


Bob McDonnell
Governor of Virginia

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