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Thanksgiving Day proclamation: Its curious link to 'Mary Had a Little Lamb'

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Who’d have thought that the presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation has links to “Mary Had a Little Lamb”? 

Yes, American history is rife with such oddball trivia – and, as proclamations go, the Thanksgiving Day message is richer than most in that vein.

Generally, presidential proclamations are standard fare, issued to satisfy constituent groups. This year alone President Obama has issued 122 proclamations, according to Mark Knoller, CBS Radio White House correspondent, who keeps statistics on presidential actions. Subjects have ranged from National Forest Products Week to Leif Erikson Day (though we’re not sure who, exactly, is the constituency for that last one).

But these run-of-the-mill proclamations lack the historical resonance of the Thanksgiving Day proclamation. The first one, after all, came from none other than George Washington in 1789. Still, the idea of a single day set aside nationwide for Thanksgiving did not catch on until almost 75 years later – and that’s where “Mary Had a Little Lamb” comes in. 

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