Thanksgiving Day is a time of joy for most Americans. We gather together with family and friends and enjoy wonderful feasts while watching football and parades and preparing for a month of holiday parties. Hopefully we spend some of the day doing what the day was actually set aside for - giving thanks. There have been times though when this joyful day is also a day of sadness.
On this week in 1978 there was great sadness in the San Francisco area, but also in other places as well. Just ten days earlier 918 people died in Jonestown, Guyana and at the nearby airstrip in Port Kaituma following what they called a "revolutionary suicide." The largest number of those who died were from the Bay Area. While the nation was still reeling from this tragedy, there was another one: double murder at San Francisco City Hall.
Yesterday marked the anniversary of the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. People waking up on this date in 1978 saw a headline in the San Francisco Chronicle that read MOSCONE, MILK SLAIN--DAN WHITE IS HELD. Less than a month before Christmas, with San Francisco decorated in its holiday splendor, there was great sadness at a time of joy.
This past summer, 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson, and on Monday of this week, a grand jury there in that Missouri city decided that it would not indict Wilson in the shooting death of Brown. Following the grand jury's announcement, there have been peaceful protests as well as rioting. Some businesses there have been looted and other have been burned to the ground. More sadness at a time of joy.
To dwell on the negative is to not move forward. There still is goodness in this world. There still is hope and there is much to be thankful for. I'm not suggesting for a moment that it is wrong to remember the sadness and I am not saying that vigils or protests are bad. We need to do more though. We need to work toward a day when this time of joy will be only joyful and when sad events like these don't take place. We need to work toward a day when police aren't shooting men in the street and when elected officials are not being murdered while doing their work and when cult leaders and not drawing innocent and unsuspecting people to their deaths. When we get to that day we can truly be thankful.