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On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation dedicating the fourth Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving in honor and recognition of the Union Army’s victory in the battle of Gettysburg – that took place in July of that year.
This year on the 154th anniversary of this truly American holiday, it is fitting for us to take a moment to reflect on the words and meaning of Lincoln’s historic proclamation.
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Honoring a Great Local teacher
It was an honor to help present the 2017 Milken Educator Award to Melanie Cole, a special education teacher at Slippery Rock Area High School. Along with teaching and preparing her students for a bright future, she also coaches soccer and serves as the school’s National Honor Society coordinator. Thanks to Melanie for all she does and congratulations on receiving such a prestigious award!
Program Encourages Hunters to Help Families in Need
Deer hunting is a rich tradition for thousands of families across the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania’s Hunters Sharing the Harvest program offers hunters a way to donate a portion of their venison to help local families in need.
Hunters can take their deer to any participating deer processor and choose the amount of venison they would like to donate to local charities to help families who are less fortunate. Sportsmen can donate as little or as much venison as they would like.
YMCA Advocates Visit My Harrisburg Office
I was pleased to meet with Rishin, Tara and Arushi, the YMCA Youth Advocates from my district, and YMCA staff members who recently visited my Harrisburg office to talk about wellness programs and combating the cardiovascular disease epidemic.
Open Enrollment for 2018 Individual Health Insurance Plans Underway
The open enrollment period for 2018 individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is now underway and will run through December 15. Information on the various plans available in each area of Pennsylvania, along with videos on buying health insurance and how it works, are available at www.insurance.pa.gov, under the Health tab.
Consumers should also be careful of where they shop for health insurance. Some companies and agents are offering plans they say are compliant with the ACA, but they are not. The federal marketplace’s website ends in .gov. Consumers not shopping on Healthcare.gov are not shopping on the federal marketplace. In addition, consumers buying an off-exchange plan directly from a company should make sure they are on an official website for one of Pennsylvania’s five health insurers. These are Capital Blue Cross, Geisinger, Highmark, Independence Blue Cross, and UPMC Health Plan.
For more information on health insurance or to contact the Insurance Department’s Bureau of Consumer Services, visit www.insurance.pa.gov or call 1-877-881-6388.
Nominations Now Accepted for Local Government Excellence Awards
Nominations are being accepted for the Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence through December 1. The awards are presented to local government leaders who have demonstrated exceptional dedication to improving public services through innovative projects or initiatives.
Visit the Local Government Day Awards webpage for more information about the judging criteria for each category, the award guidelines, and how to submit a nomination.
Apply Now for the 2018-19 Scholars in Residence Program
The Pennsylvania State Archives and the Pennsylvania Historical Association are now accepting applications for the 2018-2019 Scholars in Residence Program. The Scholars in Residence Program provides support for up to four weeks of full-time research and study in the manuscript and state record collections maintained by the State Archives. Applications must be submitted by February 15, 2018.
Residency programs are open to anyone researching Pennsylvania history, including academic scholars, public sector professionals, independent scholars, graduate students, educators, writers, filmmakers and others. Residencies may be scheduled for up to four weeks between June 15 and August 15, 2018. Stipends will be awarded.
For more information and applications, visit: https://phmc.info/ScholarsInResidence.
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Here to Serve You
Senate Box 203021
170 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
FAX: (717) 787-6088
22045 Route 6
Warren, PA 16365-7952
FAX: (814) 728-2102
110 East Diamond Street
Butler, PA 16001
FAX: (724) 282-6852
229 Elm Street
Oil City, PA 16301
FAX: (814) 677-6331