A Letter to President Lincoln
From the Editor: The following is the first in a series of three letters to Presidents in honor of Presidents Day. For the remaining few days of February, we will post three tributes to the men who truly launched and shaped our country. We hope you enjoy this mini-series!!!
This week we celebrate Presidents Day. A federal holiday created to give federal employees more three-day weekends. Originally this holiday was split into two holidays honoring George Washingtons’ birthday; February 22, and Abraham Lincolns birthday February 12th. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents' Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents, past and present.
Today, we are going to focus on the latest of these three presidents. The theme of this message is a letter the editor is writing to this key figure in history.
Dear Mr. Lincoln,
You were such a gentle giant, caring, charismatic, and passionate, and as a leader, you did so much for our country and our people!!! We are so very grateful that because of your leadership, our country survived the deadliest war ever, and years later we returned to a truly United States, thanks to you.
However, it deeply saddens me to write to you and tell you what, this country - the one you loved so much and gave your life leading and protecting, has become. In fact, it discourages me to advise you that much of the incredible accomplishments of your great leadership have been diminished, and in many cases are eroding away.
You may not know this, Mr. Lincoln, but history has recorded you as a president that “Saved the Union” and “Freed the Slaves.” But what did that really entail? It seems for you, Mr. Lincoln, that “Saving the Union” and “Freeing the Slaves” were two critical objectives which were essentially linked together as one; “The Union must be preserved in the purity of its principles as well as the integrity of its territorial parts,” you once proclaimed. However, if you talked to the average America today, Mr. President, they would tell you that the Union is in distress and although those slaves are free, many feel they are not treated by some, or even many, as equals. When I think of where we are today, I remember those words you spoke, at approximately 3:00pm on Thursday November 19th, 1863, while standing in Soldiers National Cemetery, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: “ …Our fathers brought forth upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition, that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL!”
You see Mr. Lincoln, a lot of people are angry and the union is again splitting apart, much like it was when you were elected to office. I think our people have forgotten those words. We are still a relatively new nation, but the dedication to liberty and that proposition you made, don’t seem to be as important to many of our citizens, as they were when our fathers did this work, nor even when you uttered these words.
There are many reasons why our country is again dividing; a systematic cultural separation from Jesus and God, a lack of enforcement of our laws, too much wealth for even those considered lower middle class and up, too much divide between those with “wealth” and those in poverty, elected politicians instead of statesmen and women, a lack of good parenting and strong leadership, social media’s lack of accountability, and an increasing lack of knowledge and appreciation for how this country was formed and it’s history of defending this country.
Abe, if I may call you Abe, along with the clear separation of our culture from Jesus and God, I think the final point made above, is certainly a key reason for our divide and the overall lack of appreciation for what this country stands for. As you stated so eloquently on that November 19th afternoon: “…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.”
This great civil war, cost over 620,000 US citizens their lives. This is without doubt the costliest war in which our country has ever been involved. 620,000 men and women dying to defend their country, is more than 1.5 times those lost in World War II, and more than 5 times higher than any other conflict in which the USA has been involved. In terms of the number of deaths per day, the Civil War is at the top, with an average of 425 deaths per day, while the First and Second World Wars have averages of roughly 100 and 200 fatalities per day respectively.
Mr. Lincoln…Abe…I know the civil war, and all citizens deaths were painful to you, and it should be as painful to every US citizen. There should be serious thought, angst, and sorrow, every time one of our citizens dies – PERIOD! Let alone when one dies defending our sovereign country. You touched on this as you continued your speech: “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 seems we have forgotten – shame on us Mr. President. In many cases we have not only forgotten, but we have not showed the same dedication you had to the country, to assure ourselves that our youth know of these sacrifices, so lest they now and ever forget.
But our schools no longer teach about these sacrifices. Sure, they teach about the country, the founding fathers, and the basics around our founding documents, but they don’t get into the hard work, the sweat, the toil, the heartache, nor the sacrifices. Our schools have taken the person, the human feelings and emotions, and the humanity out of our history. The men and women who were lost, their families left to carry on as single-parents, the men and women left with disabilities who had to learn, amidst their physical struggles and limitations, how to live all-over again. The destruction to property, cities, and lives that occurred so that the rest of us have the freedoms and opportunities we have in this great land. Many of our society have never experienced times like these. They have never had to see a loved one go off to war and have days, weeks, months go by - never knowing whether or not they are alive, have been wounded, or God forbid have been taken prisoner or been killed, all in an effort to defend our freedom…never knowing when…or IF…they will come home.
Abe, I truly feel our younger adults have no appreciation of these sacrifices and what it truly means to protect and defend our country and our citizens. The vast majority of our population that experienced World War II have left us with very very few still living. One has to be 60+ years old to remember Viet Nam, and very vaguely remember the Korean conflict. So, the only “war” most of our citizens have experienced, are the Iraq/Afghanistan operations, which were highly technology-based conflicts with very few soldiers involved. While these operations certainly were as critical and essential to our freedom, they did not significantly impact our entire countries daily way of life. We are so very appreciative of this technology, as it has equated to less difficulties and far less casualties, but these operations have been very inadequately seen as glorified video games, which is truly disrespectful to the actual activities, soldiers, and commitments. We don’t see these conflicts on the news, we don’t talk about them in school classrooms, we don’t as an entire nation feel compelled to pitch in and support the effort, and we all say we support our troops but the level of support, the financial backing, and the true appreciation, each and every day, is not occurring, as it has in the past.
Mr. Lincoln, it appears we did not take your challenge to heart. As you stood on that battlefield, where 165,000 fought to defend their country, and over 51,000 perished, I know the emotions must have been immense. I can’t imagine the feelings of all those in attendance when you gave this address. All of you standing on those hollowed grounds, where just 4 months earlier, roughly one in every three soldiers would be killed, in just 3 days. Those in attendance certainly heard and felt your anguish, heartbreak, love, and compassion. I just hope, Mr. President, that all of our country’s citizens can see this, and sense this, every time we see a soldier, a graveyard, a monument, a courthouse, and the stars and stripes of the USA. Every time we pass a historical marker or battlefield and every time we look up at that beautiful flag of ours, with 50 stars now...16 more than what Old Glory displayed when you were elected, Abe.
Finally, Mr. President, we really miss you and need you! As you look down upon us, from Heaven, what is unfolding in our country has to break your heart. Can you ask God if he can send to us a child born with your same talents, love, and demeaner, who will become president, to help save our land? I still have confidence in the human spirit and that we Americans will begin turning our country back around to its roots, but having a leader like you would certainly help. We need some of your common sense and leadership. I know that you could have chosen to allow the original seven seceding states to leave the Union. You could have compromised and allowed slavery to expand to some or all of the western states or even the whole United Sates so the seven states would change their mind about secession. You could have agreed to an end of the Civil War leaving the slaves in bondage. Abe, you always chose saving the union with the purity of its principles and you never wavered under significant political pressures.
You were the leader we needed then, and most certainly need now. So, I am hoping we citizens, who truly love this country, heed your final words in that memorable November speech: “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.”
Thank You so very much Mr. President!!!
Side Note: I thought you might like to know some of the many ways we honor Abraham Lincoln:
· There are six locations in the National Park Service wholly or partially dedicated to Abraham Lincoln:
o Abraham Lincoln National Historic Site,
o Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial,
o Lincoln Home National Historic Site,
o Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site,
o The Lincoln Memorial,
o Mount Rushmore National Monument.
· In Illinois there are 10 State Historic Sites dedicated to Abraham Lincoln.
· Kentucky, Indiana, and other states also have state administered sites dedicated to Abraham Lincoln.
· There are also a number of sites in private hands that are dedicated to Abraham Lincoln.
· There is a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Edinburgh, Scotland; another in Manchester, England; still another on Westminster Square in London, England;
· There are nine statues or busts in Washington D. C.
o Four statues or busts in Gettysburg, PA;
o At least seven statues or busts in Springfield, IL
o Three in Hollywood, CA
o Countless others around the world.
· There are also numerous cities, counties, schools, universities, housing sub-divisions, and businesses named for Abraham Lincoln.