Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy birthday, President Lincoln

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

People all across the United States are celebrating the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. I live in Spokane, where a large statue of President Lincoln resides. Upon moving here, I was a bit perplexed at seeing it, thinking Lincoln had no significance to Spokane. He was not born here, he did not die here, he did not vacation here or have a cabin on the Spokane River.

Why is he here? That is just the thing: President Lincoln was significant for the entire nation; and, he continues to inspire. Especially in this day and age, with economic hardship and despair all around us, his story needs to be told, again and again. A poor, uneducated boy worked tirelessly to improve upon, educate, and better himself, and became one of the most celebrated, influential, and respected presidents the world has ever known.

Did you catch President Obama's speech at the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration? It was a moving and inspirational speech, and I am so grateful for a president who is well educated, well read, humbled, and eloquent.

President Obama said: "I feel a special gratitude to this singular figure who in so many ways made by own story possible - and who in so many ways made America's story possible. It is fitting that we are holding this celebration here at the Capitol. For the life of this building is bound ever so closely to the times of this immortal President.

"What Lincoln never forgot, not even in the midst of civil war, was that despite all that divided us - north and south, black and white - we were, at heart, one nation and one people, sharing a bond as Americans that could not break. And so even as we meet here today, at a moment when we are far less divided than in Lincoln's day, but when we are once again debating the critical issues of our time - and debating them fiercely - let us remember that we are doing so as servants to the same flag, as representatives of the same people, and as stakeholders in a common future. That is the most fitting tribute we can pay - and the most lasting monument we can build - to that most remarkable of men, Abraham Lincoln."

At the same time, does it seem bizarre to you that a "star-studded gala" would be held at Ford's Theater, the site of Lincoln's assassination in 1865, the night before the bicentennial of his birth? Maybe it is just me.

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