Did I Get My Thanksgiving Story Right?

After 27 years of living and working in awesome Washington, DC area, this is my first thanksgiving in Tehran with my Iranian family and friends. I did my best to explain the thanksgiving story to everyone at the dinner table. At the end, one of my cousins raised a smart question and I really didn’t have a good answer.  She said “Let me get this right….” The white people from Europe “discovered” America and decided to migrate and settle there. Right?

I said “Yes”

Shortly after their migration, the white people faced strong resistance from the native people, the Indians. Right?

I said “Yes”

The Indians and the white people could not get along right from the start so, the white people started killing the Indians with their more sophisticated firepower while Indians thought they could defend their country, land, homes, and families with their knives, bows and arrows.

I said “Yes”

After years of fighting, the Indians realized their fighting skills, bows and arrows were no match against all those heavy artillery and machine guns the white people had. They realized if they continue their fight, their race would soon be destroyed. So, they decided to cook a turkey and have it with their enemy, the white people who had invaded and destroyed their 


She asked “Is this tradition being practiced by the white folks or the Indians in America today?”

I said “good question! During all these 27 years I lived in the US, I never saw it ever practiced by any Indians. So, I guess only by white people. If there some Indians practicing it, I doubt there are that many”

Then, she said “regardless which one of them is practicing it, it seems to me the Indians cooked and offered the turkey to the White
people so the white people 
would stop killing them. Basically, the Indians did this begging for mercy”.

I said “Yes”

Then she popped the question that I could not answer. She said “I understand why the Indians did this. They just did not have any more energy left to save their families and lands. So they were happy with their decision and they were thankful, but what were the white people thankful for?  If today the Americans regret how they slaughtered the Indians, why are they repeating their mistake by helping Israelis to do  the same thing to the Palestinians now?

Then I thought Oh crap! She has a point. So, I told her I’d get back to her on that.”

All that said, does anyone has a good answer?

I am a naturalized US citizen and I thought I knew the US history pretty well.  This simple question by my cousin made me realize I still have lots of learning to do.

Feel free to connect with me via awesomize.me

About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

3 Responses to Did I Get My Thanksgiving Story Right?

  1. episkyros says:

    Well, Elias, yes, you got your Thanksgiving story wrong. The salient bits of the Thanksgiving story are: (1) religious people leaving behind violence and intolerance in their homeland in search of place where they could worship freely (hence it was termed a ‘pilgrimage’) while preserving cultural identity; (2) The ‘Pilgrims’ and the native Americans held a ‘potluck’ celebration to celebrate the harvest in October 1621; (3) The Pilgrims and natives’ harvest feast inspired the national holiday we currently know as ‘Thanksgiving Day’.

  2. episkyros says:

    That said, Elias, the point of your Iranian interlocutors should be taken together with the true Thanksgiving story: the Pilgrim heritage is a heritage of peace and spiritual seeking, which, not 10 years later, a new wave of Puritan immigrants drove underground. Still, the Pilgrim heritage was at the heart of the abolitionist movement that, in his own very politically conflicted manner, President Abraham Lincoln brought to fruition by the end of the Civil War. In the meantime, it was Abraham Lincoln who harked back to that Pilgrim heritage when asking Congress to officially call for a “Day of Thanksgiving.”

    Maybe the question would be interesting to ask: what would President Lincoln do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations” (Second Inaugural Address– Saturday, March 4th, 1865).

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