The True Origins of Thanksgiving


The sole attribution of Thanksgiving to the 1621 feast between the Wampanoag tribe and the Mayflower pilgrims is not completely accurate. In fact, that historical feast wasn’t even referred to as ‘Thanksgiving’ until the early nineteenth century, and Thanksgiving didn’t become a national holiday until Abraham Lincoln declared so in 1863. So where did Thanksgiving begin? And what was it originally meant to celebrate?

The feast between the Wampanoag tribe and the English settlers in 1621 does play a small role in the history of Thanksgiving. Most Americans learn the story of Native Americans and their leader Squanto celebrating the harvest after a tough year. In reality, by the time that feast came around, the Wampanoag population had reduced from about 8,000 to 1,500 due to European diseases introduced by the settlers. Squanto himself had been captured by Englishmen years before, sold into Spanish slavery, and returned home to see his entire native Patuxet tribe extinct from smallpox. Squanto worked as a translator for the settlers and the Wampanoag tribe, and he helped the tribe teach the settlers how to farm in the New England environment. In 1621 the two groups joined to celebrate the victories of a successful harvest. This harvest would be an ‘eye of the storm’ so to speak, as it was situated between devastating population losses for both parties.

The positive relationship between settlers and Native Americans was short-lived; the second Thanksgiving was actually a celebration of the massacres that followed the original feast in 1621. English citizens quickly got word of the good conditions in New England, and settlers began to outnumber Native Americans in this region. Broken treaties and disputed claims over land exploded during the Pequot War. One specific massacre during the war resulted in another “Day of Thanksgiving” in the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies.

The holiday as we know it today is not a celebration of the massacre of Native Americans or the brief peace between English settlers and Native Americans. Most Americans don’t sit down on Thanksgiving to remember those two events, so what changed? Well, George Washington issued his Proclamation of General Thanksgiving, which served as a “one size fits all” push for gratefulness. Then, in 1863, to unify celebrations across the country Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as an official holiday. Later, in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November to make the holiday shopping season longer. Now, Thanksgiving is largely celebrated as a day for families to come together and give thanks for one another. Families across the country gather around the table to enjoy a large dinner and each other’s company.

Still, the extreme injustice endured by Native Americans is not forgotten. While some may recollect grade school plays about pilgrims and Native Americans, Thanksgiving is also the National Day of Mourning. Established in 1970 by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE), the National Day of Mourning is set on the same day of Thanksgiving every year. The UAINE and others across the country use the day to remember ancestors, protest the treatment of Native Americans by the US government, and connect with spiritual beliefs. So whether you’re relaxing this weekend after your Thanksgiving festivities or protesting in the streets of New England, be sure to take a moment to recognize Thanksgiving as it was, as it is, and as it becomes.

The Future of Women’s Health Care Is At Stake


The U.S. Supreme Court now has a conservative majority that is more than able to overturn the supreme court case Roe v. Wade. The addition of Brett Kavanaugh is all that is needed to overturn the law, as he replaces the previous swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy. If the case is overturned, it would give state governments the power to ban or legalize abortions. According to history, at least half of the U.S. would criminalize abortion if this occurred.

In 2016, Texas imposed laws that forced more than half of the state’s abortion clinics to shut down. These were overturned by the Court, with Justice Kennedy casting the deciding vote. However, with Kavanaugh now on the Court, it is probable that he would allow such state-imposed restrictions to stand.

As a judge, Kavanaugh has never directly ruled on abortion. But based on prior precedent, it is clear how he would decide on the issue. He dissented on an appeals court decision that allowed a pregnant undocumented teenager in federal custody to have an abortion, which gives an indication to his views on the subject.

In addition to being anti-abortion, Kavanaugh is also opposed to birth control. One might suspect Kavanaugh would be pro-birth control, seeing that the purpose of birth control is to reduce the chances of a baby being conceived, but he isn’t. During his confirmation hearing, he described contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.” It wasn’t clear which methods of birth control he was speaking of (e.g. pills, patches, and IUDs or emergency contraceptives); however, the term “abortion-inducing” represents a gross misrepresentation of contraceptives, as none can terminate a pregnancy. As Kavanaugh sits as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court for decades to come, the rights of women to health care and abortion that took so much time and effort to gain are at stake, and there is no guarantee what the future holds.

An Ode To Spirit Week


I don’t know about you, but by this point in the school year, I can truly say I wish it was over. Each day presents the same monotonous cycle of six-and-a-half hours of school followed by heaping piles of homework, only to be repeated the next day. Not only does the amount of hard work and studies tend to get me down, but also the effort involved in getting socially ready for another day of school. I struggle under the burden of finding different outfits to wear every day and trying to be in a presentable manner for myself and my peers. However, there is one week out of the fifty-two where everything is different. The shining light at the end of a dark tunnel. Five days of unmitigated jubilation. Spirit Week. 

If we were at any normal school this would last one brilliant week, but seeing as we go to the grandest high school in the state of North Carolina, it doesn’t stop there. With the help of Hurricane Michael, we have been granted a miraculous extension to what we thought would end come the weekend. If you participated in the initial spirit week, fantastic job: you get more spirit week! If you did not participate, no need to fear. I know the shame you have from not engaging previously has eaten you from the inside out, but believe me, your sins will be pardoned—just participate in this week! There truly is no excuse! Nothing could be better than dressing up in outrageous outfits for five straight school days to represent what Cary High School does best: school spirit.

*Thursday’s theme is Holiday, and Friday’s is Green and White.

Tragic Takeaways


This summer, tragedy struck the Capital Gazette of Annapolis. A lone gunman opened fire in the paper’s office and coldly killed five staff members. The attack was brutal, heartless, and cruel. Though the ruthlessness of this assault is the epitome of the worst of America, the response embodies its best. The Gazette valiantly published a paper not only the following day, but everyday thereafter. The continuation of business was complicated by the loss of key staff members and capital equipment, but the Baltimore Sun stepped up and provided their presses and equipment to the Gazette. As time went on, the Gazette put out a request for additional writers to help continuing publishing. The response was overwhelming; the paper was inundated with offers from writers across the country. The outpouring of aid was so great the paper was forced to turn people away as there were simply too many offers. The Gazette‘s uninterrupted publishing was fitting for an industry that will stop at nothing to keep the public informed, and the perseverance and dedication of writers, editors, and publishers all across the country serves as a ringing endorsement of the unwavering spirit of America’s free press in the face of any attack.

Such devastation is disheartening, but we can all take something away from the response to these ruthless murders. Journalists nationwide saw the attack as not just against the Gazette but against the press corps of America. As a result, they joined together to show both their assailant and the public that the news could not be stopped. In doing so, not only did they continue their colleagues’ legacy perfectly, they sent a clear message that no matter what the attack on the free and independent press, the dissemination of news will not be stopped. This bodes incredibly well for a news industry facing mounting challenges to its objectivity, access, and its very existence. News is now attacked not just as biased but as outright false. These attacks threaten the integrity of news as people in high authority use their vast reach to assail news organizations, eroding public trust in journalism at large. While there are indeed examples of suspect journalism, the vast majority of journalists have a genuine love for the truth and uphold the good name of their profession.

This is perhaps the biggest takeaway from the response to the Capital Gazette attack: that American journalists aim to inform the public and will stop in the face of no attack, whether it be physical as in Annapolis, or a war of words, as our president is now waging on unfriendly press. The Page is a staunch supporter of the good journalists of America and we detest any attack on the press. The attack at the Gazette was tragic, and we must never forget the pain of this attack. We must move on, however, and take this tragedy and create from it a triumph for America’s press.

A Reflection on Media Sensationalism


Many of us probably have similar experiences of Hurricane Florence’s four day trudge through the Carolinas. We spent days, maybe even weeks, watching the “cone of possibility,” obsessing over every shift westward or eastward, constantly calculating the chances of school canceling, offering our own takes. And then, as the hurricane came closer and dipped south of us, weakening earlier than expected, we settled in begrudgingly to a period of seemingly pointless house arrest. It was rainy, windy, and maybe our lights flickered a couple of times, but overall, this “hurricane” didn’t seem like much of a crisis here in Cary.

Hurricane Florence was a crisis, though, for many in eastern North Carolina and along the coast. Even though it wasn’t quite what forecasters expected, it still brought severe flooding and wind damage. It affected thousands–taking their electricity, their homes, and in some cases, their lives.

I spent most of this tropical storm in my room, fiddling around with the Common App, checking Instagram and Twitter, and thinking about getting things done. I also checked the weather every once in a while, gawking at the live stream of a shredded American flag in the middle of the ocean (at Frying Pan Tower) before venturing into mainstream news websites to see the national coverage of our storm.

Sometimes it’s hard, as we lounge about in our comfortably dry houses, to fully grasp the weight of a storm like this. We need reminders of the severity. But on sites like CNN or the Weather Channel, the storm becomes something beyond a natural disaster; it’s a spectacle, a source of entertainment. Dramatic all-caps fonts, menacing graphics, and buzz-words fill the pages. This hurricane is no joke, but it seems like large media corporations are less motivated by saving lives, and more motivated by generating buzz, clicks, and ultimately, money.

Media coverage is one of the best ways to warn people about an upcoming threat and urge them to prepare, to save lives. It’s a gift that we have the internet and Twitter and caring public figures that all spread the word. But once the storm starts, do we really need constant updates on something as sensitive and serious as a death toll?

Statistics like death tolls are important for measuring the effect of and response to a storm, but clickbait-y real-time updates trivialize the lives lost, making a hurricane scoreboard out of them. As I saw Florence’s toll start at four, jump to nine, and then to thirteen, I felt a disconnect between the numbers and the actual people. And while that’s true of nearly any statistic, perhaps we need time to grieve more fully for individuals before tacking them on to a growing count. At the very least, death toll numbers certainly don’t need to be eye-catching headlines.

But there’s hope yet. I stumbled upon a New Yorker dispatch on flooded hog lagoons in the wake of Hurricane Florence. An article like this exposes a reader to more than what’s at hand; it shows the connections between the environment, our farming policies, and natural disasters. It interviews farmers who provide first-hand accounts of the larger farming industry’s disregard for the environment. Ultimately, it educates the reader’s perspective of the world, rather than reinforcing short attention spans with dramatic sound bites.

Overly-sensational news is here to stay. But if we could just shift our focus, and readership, to publications that dig deeper, that provide more fully human stories, we’ll only be more empathetic, educated, and ready to take appropriate action.

A Gross Overstepping of Boundaries


Following a closed door meeting between Trump and Putin during the recent Helsinki summit, many liberals are calling on Marina Gross, Trump’s interpreter, to reveal what occurred in that confidential meeting. Such demands are uncalled for and dangerous to the jobs of our interpreters and American diplomatic relations.

Interpreters are hired not only for their linguistic abilities, but also for their ability to keep important matters and discussions private. As Yuliya Tsaplina, a Russian interpreter, states, “We are only as valuable as we can interpret faithfully, accurately, and keep things in confidence.” Demands for information, such as a motion from Adam Schiff — head Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee — to subpoena Ms. Gross, show a distinct lack of respect and consideration for the code of ethics and laws of labor by which interpreters function. We all are curious as to what was discussed between Putin and Trump, but liberals are targeting an innocent bystander, Ms. Gross, for simply doing her job; if information about this meeting is to be revealed, it should done by Trump himself, rather than dragging Marina Gross in front of a congressional committee and soiling the interpreting profession she has worked in for decades.

Subpoenaing Ms. Gross for information would also have unintended negative effects on our relationships with other countries. When discussing important matters and creating solutions, foreign leaders must be able to trust that ideas and discussions are kept private, and that interpreters will not disclose the content of these critical meetings America has with other foreign powers. If Ms. Gross is made to reveal the contents of Putin and Trump’s discussion, it will set a precedent for all American foreign discussions that we can not be trusted to keep things confidential. If, after every meeting a president has with another foreign leader, the discussion is blasted from the rooftops, why would other countries continue to discuss private and important matters with us? It is similar to how we Americans depend on our doctors to keep our medical ailments and confidential. If I, as a doctor, proclaimed your private personal health issues to the world, you would rightfully decide not to come to me with any other issues you might have in the future. In much the same way, foreign countries must be able to depend on the United States to keep private issues undisclosed, and if we demand information from our interpreters, this vow of privacy can not be maintained.

The pressure on Marina Gross to reveal confidential discussions reveals a dangerous precedent in the political search for information. As Trump’s presidency continues, the left continues to desperately search for evidence showing collusion between the Trump team and Russia. The pursuit of said evidence is not the problem: if information exists that shows undeniable collusion, it undoubtedly must be brought to light. The left chooses to pursue dirt on Trump recklessly, even at the cost of interpreters’ reputation and professional standing. The relentless search for scandal is not a partisan problem, however: during the 2016 presidential election, many Republicans did not care about the origins of leaks regarding Hillary Clinton, just so long as “Crooked Hillary” would appear corrupt. Did these Republicans care that these leaks came from Russian hackers and shady figures such as Julian Assange? Hardly.

In examining the lunacy of pressing Ms. Gross to divulge private foreign affairs, it becomes clear that America’s political divisions and quarrels continue without regard for how information is gathered. If we ever hope to have a country united in the pursuit of truth and facts, we must uncover conspiracies through bipartisan support and measured investigation. Trump may be wrong in keeping his Putin meeting confidential, but that does not make it right to betray the trust and ethics of others to reveal the information. If we as a country wish to reveal and remove corruption in our government and our president, we must do it together. Otherwise, our differences and disagreements are merely accentuated by the rash actions we take to bolster our own arguments.