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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.”
Helping Students Honor Veterans on Veterans Day
Congratulations to the students at Blairsville Elementary and Middle schools for conducting such a great tribute to our veterans. I was proud to attend and help honor my fellow veterans.
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.
Hundreds Attend Indiana County Senior Expo
I was pleased to visit with the more than 600 local folks who stopped in at the Senior Expo that state Representatives Dave Reed and Cris Dush and I recently co-hosted at the S&T Bank Arena in the White Township Recreation Complex.
More than 100 representatives from local organizations and businesses, health associations as well as state and federal agencies participated in this free event. Representatives provided information on numerous subjects of interest to older residents including, health care, insurance, nutrition and exercise, fire safety, financial planning and personal safety.
Students Encouraged to Participate in “Talk to Your Senator” Video Contest
Local middle and high school students are invited to participate in a statewide video competition intended to focus greater awareness on the growing heroin and opioid epidemic crisis.
As part of the “Talk to Your State Senator” competition sponsored by the Senate of Pennsylvania with support from members of the Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Association of PA, students are encouraged to submit video entries of up to five minutes that highlight ways to combat abuse, help those who suffer from addiction and develop laws to address the current crisis.
The opioid crisis is impacting our local communities in a devastating way. Too many lives and families being tragically impacted by these drugs. We need to get everyone involved in this battle and I encourage our local students to participate in this effort.
I co-hosted a public hearing of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania at Indiana University of Pennsylvania last September on Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts against opioid addiction. Video of that hearing is available at: https://pasen.wistia.com/medias/13ll5q2g2z.
“Talk to Your Senator” is open to Pennsylvania students in grades 6 through 12 and will provide a total of $10,000 in cash prizes to winning entries that focus on ways to prevent drug and alcohol abuse among young people. Prize money will be awarded through the TAP 529 Account program in the PA Department of Treasury and will be deposited into a college savings account in the winner(s) name. Videos will be judged based on creativity, content and effectiveness of message delivery.
Schools and students can find more information on the contest, including guidelines on submitting videos, content, judging, and prizes, at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com, a website established by the Pennsylvania Senate as a tool to provide information and resources on the heroin and opioid crisis.
Entries must be submitted using the registration form available online at www.acommonwealthcrisis.com/talk-to-your-state-senator/. The deadline for video entries is December 10.
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.
Mark Your Calendar
The annual Trees for Troops event at Fleming’s Christmas Tree Farm, 1803 Fleming Road, Indiana, will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 2.
This is one of my favorite events to sponsor. Trees for service men and women are available at a special price of $25. Last year more than 300 trees were purchased at Flemings and sent to servicemen and their families throughout the world with the help of FedEx.
Come on out and have a fun-filled family day selecting your own tree, as well as one for a soldier. Horse drawn wagon rides, photo props, activity tables and a concession stand make it complete along with members of our local Army Reserve unit who will help load the trees.
286 Main Capitol