In the aftermath of evil being unleashed upon our fellow citizens yesterday, I find it sobering that today we are reminded to give thanks to our Sovereign God who has already vanquished evil.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, perhaps our nation’s most revered Presidents, had similar thoughts about why Americans should remember to give thanks.

On this day, Oct. 3, 1789, our first President was mindful of the blessings bestowed upon our young country. He set aside Nov. 26 of that year as a national day of Thanksgiving with these words: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore his protection and favor.”

On this same day, 75 years later, President Lincoln set aside a permanent day of thanks on the last Thursday of November, even in the midst of his personal sorrow as the nation continued to reel from a devastating Civil War. He proclaimed that this would be a national day of “thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” and so it has been every year since.

I believe both of these great presidents would implore us to be thankful on this anniversary, even as we mourn. Thankful for brave first responders who charged into evil once again and saved countless lives…thankful for the dedication of medical professionals who will use their gifts to save many more in the coming days…thankful for our local and national communities, and our houses of worship, that will walk side by side with the impacted families, holding them up through this season of grief.

We will never forget. Prior to this horrible act of wanton violence, the word “remember” had been front and center in my stream of consciousness. Next month, on that special day, as we celebrate our blessings with friends and family, I will be mindful of the families who will understandably find it hard to give thanks.

I know you will, too. Let’s remember to pray for them.