On this date in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Ky. Once upon a time, Americans commemorated his birthday and that of George Washington (on Feb. 22) separately. Surely men of such stature deserved the distinction instead of the conglomeration that is Monday next's Presidents Day, a three-day federal holiday better known for store sales than presidents.
All presidential tenures are not equal, of course. But that they are has become the mindset of our everybody's-a-winner society.
Alas, and not to that end, we commend for your review, on what would have been Mr. Lincoln's 205th birthday, some words to ponder, from an Aug. 22, 1864, speech to the 166th Ohio Regiment as America remained in the throes of a great civil war:
“I happen temporarily to occupy this big White House. I am a living witness that any one of your children may look to come here as my father's child has. It is in order that each of you may have through this free government which we have enjoyed, an open field and a fair chance for your industry, enterprise and intelligence; that you may all have equal privileges in the race of life, with all its desirable human aspirations. It is for this the struggle should be maintained, that we may not lose our birthright — not only for one, but for two or three years. The nation is worth fighting for, to secure such an inestimable jewel.”
Sadly, the American jewel is tarnished these days. May the fight continue. And may our struggles polish the jewel anew.
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