Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. Lincoln!

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. (Some of my readers say, "The birth of That Man." I understand.) In Illinois, that's a state holiday. In our county, approximately 20,000 people stopped what they were doing at 1:30pm to read the following words;

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.

It was moving, regardless of your opinion of the writer, or which side of The Cause you would support. We also sang The Battle Hymn of the Republic which was not Lincoln's favorite song. That, some of you would be interested to know, was Dixie.

Something else I learned was that, although he prayed constantly, Lincoln was never baptized. In fact, he was shot on Good Friday and died the next day. Sadly, his baptism was scheduled for that very Easter Sunday. He never got to have that joy and reassurance.

We took Seanster and Justice to this event. Mary sat and listened quietly, as did Sean. Actually, I think he slept through some of it. But Justice...We had read a story about Lincoln to the boys before we left, and explained that a reenactor would be speaking, pretending to be the President. Every 5 minutes or so during the presentation, Justice, who was on my lap, would turn and say, "Is this really 'Abaham' Lincoln? "No, sweetie," I'd say. "He's just pretending. Remember, Mr. Lincoln is dead." "OK." Five minutes later...same question.

And, at the end, he had to have his picture taken with that famous Illinoisan (via Kentucky and Indiana, of course!)

He also spent a great portion of the time writing Abraham Lincoln's name on the program. I wish I had taken a picture of that, before he took it home! It wasn't bad for a 4 year-old.

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