In Awe of Lincoln

When you walk up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it’s easy to be impressed. The size and magnificence of the edifice are designed to inspire. It’s larger than life. So, of course, is Lincoln and his legacy.

When I was in the fourth grade, I read every book my school library had about Abraham LIncoln. The librarian was impressed by my interest in him and gave me a replica of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s handwriting. I took it and a poster of Lincoln I bought from the weekly reader book order and mounted them on poster board. Without any prompting from an adult, as a ten year old I memorized the Gettysburg Address. 

I was then, and am now, a super fan. Yes, he had his faults, yes some of his attitudes and beliefs are not congruent with my own world view or what many of us would find acceptable in 2022. There is, however, no denying, in my opinion, that Lincoln’s wisdom, courage and abilities preserved the union. Even more importantly, he helped bring an end to the evil practice of enslavement and began the national atoning of our original sin, a work that still must go on today as we strive for our more perfect union. 

In the summer of 2008, I visited the nation’s capital for the first time. My wife Jennifer was attending a conference and I tagged along. On a hot summer night was the first time I stepped foot on the memorial. It was a powerful moment for me. I took the time to read the second inaugural address etched in stone on the wall of the memorial and I have continued that practice every time I go back. It is profound, simple, aspirational, sober and an inspirational national treasure. It was given 41 days before his assianation. It is needed today as much as ever. 

“With malice toward none with charity for all with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan ~ to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”