The 12th…

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On days like today, I miss not living in New York.  Because, back when I lived in metropolitan New York,  we had two secular holidays in February- Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday.  Our 16th and 1st Presidents.

In school, and from our parents, we learned truths and lies about both of them.  But, the ultimate goal of those told tales was to instill a sense of awe and pride regarding their accomplishments.

Today, our country is being split asunder, just like when Lincoln was president. Maybe even worse.   Folks claiming it’s all about state’s rights- but what they mean is their need to do things that in their heart of hearts they know is wrong.  And, now, egged on by a Chief Executive who has yet to learn what the US Constitution affords its citizenry.

Anti-Black.  Anti-Jew. Screw the Poor. I could go on.  But, today is the day we should be honoring the principles of Abraham Lincoln.  To strive to continue to build America to be the ideal country we all hope it can be.

Let’s consider one of Lincoln’s most famous speeches.  The Gettysburg Address.  272 words. While it would take me under 60 seconds, it lasted about 176 seconds when delivered by Lincoln. (About the same cadence for the 5830 words it took to hear the most recent State of the Union address, over the course of 80 minutes.)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Hear that?  No one person is better than another.  It’s actually the reason why we should easily recognize that corporations are not and cannot be people.  Because corporations don’t go to jail when they do something wrong.  There hasn’t been a single corporation ever executed by Texas.  It’s the people of America that are equal.  If they aren’t, then it’s our job to make it so.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

This is the amazing part.  Lincoln was dead wrong here.   We do remember these words. Many school systems still require (thankfully!) students to memorize this glorious speech.   This speech, with its superb ideals, brings tears to my eyes and a pang in my heart every time I hear it.  And, we rarely recall the sacrifices made by the largest group of Americans to ever die in a single battle for our dream to survive.  We should.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

This is the closest secular statement I have ever seen reflecting the commandment of Tikun Olam.  The repair of, the act of perfecting, this imperfect world in which we live.  To insure that our children shall have a better one in which to live.

…government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

There is nothing one could add to this concluding prayer- except for our actions to insure it becomes reality.

Take a moment today and remember that America is but a tad older than a dozen score years.  We have come far- and still have far to go.

To make the United States and America to be one and the same.

Today, the 209th time it’s Lincoln’s birthday, is a great day to commit (or re-commit) ourselves to this journey.

PRESIDENT LINCOLN AT GETTYSBURG, 1863 (Photo credit: roberthuffstutter)

 

 

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Happy birthday, Mr. Lincoln.  May we all rededicate ourselves to the goals espoused in but 272 words.

Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

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8 thoughts on “The 12th…”

  1. Neat tribute, Roy! And I love what you said about making a commitment to leave the world a better place. In our homeschooling, we have only occasionally celebrated either birthday in any real way. But today, I will show my son your post!

  2. So many times, my husband has wondered what our country would have been like today if Lincoln had not been assassinated. The Gettysburg Address is one of the greatest speeches ever given. Short, precise, and immortal (I hope). Even that photo, whose image of Lincoln was only discovered (I believe) in 2013, the 150th anniversary of that speech dedicating a cemetery.
    Alana recently posted..Songs of Love – #MusicMovesMe

  3. It’s amazing that one person could convey so much in so few words. We still remember that little speech that was an example of how to be concise, yet to say so much (not my best skill). 🙂

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