70 years ago in 1947, Massachusetts Governor and King's Chapel Warden Robert F. Bradford urged the people of Massachusetts to think of those in need on Thanksgiving. Spearheading the American Silent Guest Committee in the years following World War II, Bradford encouraged Americans to invite a "silent guest" to their Thanksgiving table.
Accepting donations of the monetary equivalent required to feed an extra person at a Thanksgiving feast, the American Silent Guest Committee used to send CARE packages to families struggling to return to normalcy in post-war Europe. Since the 1940s, numerous institutions and organizations have adopted the "silent guest" ideology, developed by activist Iris Gabriel and brought to the nation over radiowaves by King's Chapel's own Governor Bradford. In honor of King's Chapel's tradition of reading Bradford's 1947 Thanksgiving Proclaimation each year, the Freedom Trail Program is hosting a special program exploring the history of the "silent guest" at Thanksgiving, and the connections of these efforts to the food history of the U.S. military.
Soldier Food and Gratitude: A Special Thanksgiving Program by Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, authorr of Combat-Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way Your Eat
"When the last battle ends, the real fight begins: To return countries and their hungry or displaced citizens to normal life after the trauma of war. What simpler way to do so than to use soldier food as humanitarian rations? The practice began here, at King’s Chapel in Boston after World War II, when, following a 1944 recommendation by the American Friends Service Committee, Governor Bradford asked all Massachusetts residents to invite a “silent guest” to their Thanksgiving feasts. This talk will explore that history, the rations that made it possible, and the powerful connection forged by sharing food during or after wartime."