Ruth requested that I start the Texas blogs with her favorite attraction, Thanks-Giving Square. When it was first proposed, Thanks-Giving Square was meant to be an island of peace and quiet in an already hectic big city downtown. Imagine how much more frantic Dallas is now than it was 55 years ago when this square first appeared. Over time, it has been added to and improved, but it remains true to its original intent, and Dallasites and visitors love to visit it.
In his 1963 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, President John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” He was assassinated in Dallas that same year while he was campaigning for re-election, and Thanks-Giving Square, a bicentennial project, would not be around for another 13 years. This place of peace and gratitude contains a grove and Wall of Presidents that was dedicated by George H. W. Bush in 1991. Subsequent Thanksgiving Proclamations of U.S. Presidents can be seen at thanksgiving.org/proclamations. A large mosaic reproduction of Norman Rockwell’s “Golden Rule” painting that he created to honor the United Nations on its 40th anniversary was appropriately added in 1996. Rockwell had noticed that all major religions have and honor the same golden rule that begins, “Do unto others….” Ruth liked the 14-feet-high, gold and aluminum Ring of Thanks, and asked me to take her picture in it. My favorite parts of Thanks-Giving Square were the Chapel of Thanksgiving and the water treatments.
This chapel was not opened when we first arrived, so we had to come back a few hours later to see it. It opened at 11 am that Sunday and was worth the effort to return. It consists of a gathering area under a stained-glass spiral that soars 90 feet above The Square to suggest the eternal upward reach of the human spirit. Its inspiration was the Great Mosque in Samarra, Iraq.
The first Thanksgiving presidential proclamation was made by George Washington. At the time he was leading his troops toward Valley Forge to spend the winter of 1777 there. This was our nation’s first Thanksgiving, and Washington had been President for only a few months. A copy of what he said graces Thanks-Giving Square. Because this is downtown Dallas, this urban retreat now sits above a truck terminal with 43 loading docks. Its time capsule won’t be opened until 2064, the 100th anniversary of its founding. I won’t be there, but I suspect the current President will open this capsule.