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\A time to take stock of fortune we have known ...\

Today, American Samoa joins the rest of the United States and Americans around the world as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day; a national holiday established by early Pilgrims who left Europe to settle in America, as they fled from persecution and sought religious freedom in a new land.

Like the rest of the nation, many local residents mark Thanksgiving with prayers and celebration in gatherings that include families and friends, as well as religious traditions.

George Washington proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, and Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition during the Civil War.

“On Thanksgiving Day, Americans everywhere gather with family and friends to recount the joys and blessings of the past year,” said President Barack Obama in his 2012 Thanksgiving proclamation.  “This day is a time to take stock of the fortune we have known and the kindnesses we have shared, grateful for the God-given bounty that enriches our lives.”

“This Thanksgiving, thousands of our men and women in uniform will sit down for a meal far from their loved ones and the comforts of home. We honor their service and sacrifice. We also show our appreciation to Americans who are serving in their communities, ensuring their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay.” said Obama in proclamation released yesterday by the White House.

Families of Toa o Samoa serving in worn torn countries and other far-flung places have asked the community to remember our soldiers in their prayers during this Thanksgiving.

Because of the holiday, all American Samoa government offices are closed today, which has been declared by Gov. Togiola Tulafono as the only Thanksgiving holiday for the government. Public school students have an extra day off on Friday, however teachers and other school officials are to report to their respective schools.

All ASG employees required to work on the holiday will be compensated in accordance with local laws. Samoa News has learned that some ASG employees plan to take Friday off as part of their vacation time.

The majority of local businesses are closed, including all federal offices, the U.S. Post Office, and the two private banks — Bank of Hawaii and ANZ Amerika Samoa Bank. Most businesses will resume operations on Friday, including the Post Office.

StarKist Samoa, the largest private employer, is closed this week and will resume operations Nov. 26, says StarKist Co., spokesperson Mary Sestric, who also told Samoa News the company provided two wahoo cases to employees, as a Thanksgiving gift package.

Police have increased their presence island-wide for the Thanksgiving holiday. Police remind motorists not to drink and drive.

Reports from the Tafuna airport indicate busy traffic for the inter Samoa route and they will be busy again over the weekend with flights bringing local residents home from Apia. The holiday comes just in time as Inter Island Airways resumes flights.

Inter Island, whose flights were suspended for some three weeks to await the arrival on island of an engine part for their aircraft, resumed flights Monday to Fitiuta. The service is welcomed by residents, who have been getting air service by the ASG aircraft Segaula.

One business owner on Ta’u island says residents are “very happy” with the return of commercial service just in time for Thanksgiving to uplift some of their cargo from Tutuila. “Thanksgiving for us here on Ta’u island will be the usual thing — church and family get together,” said the business owner via telephone from Ta’u on Tuesday.

Inter Island’s inter Samoa route resumed last Saturday.

Several local restaurants are offering Thanksgiving specials today, which will take the burden off those who usually cook at home. A few stores are also providing specials for those who do not have time to cook by preparing the traditional Thanksgiving meals ready to be picked up.

Thanksgiving officially kicks off the holiday season, with the next day, Black Friday, officially opening holiday shopping

Samoa News did not publish today but will return on Friday to its normal schedule.

Have a very safe and happy Thanksgiving to all, from Samoa News management and staff.