Sunday, May 08, 2016

Abraham, Martin, and John

For last month's A to Z Challenge I had some fun at Donald Trump's expense. My only concern is that after November's election he might be having fun at the entire country's expense for the next four years.
The thought of a President Trump is even more depressing when it exists parallel to my son S's year-long obsession with President Lincoln.
How many books does the Mullen Hall Elementary School library stock about Abraham Lincoln?
A lot.
How many have we read?
A lot.
Sure, they're kids biographies but I think I get the picture.
Lincoln grew up poor. Not poor as in the last family on the block to get cable - dirt poor. As in dirt floor and there were no other families on the block because there was no block, only the Kentucky, then the Indiana, then the Illinois - frontier.
As a boy Lincoln went to school for a cumulative total of one year.
Before he was born, Abraham Lincoln's grandfather was killed by Native Americans.
His younger brother died as a baby.
His mother died when he was nine-years old, so did his aunt and uncle. His orphaned cousin came to live with him. He was left with his cousin Dennis and sister Sarah for at least six months after his mother's death while his father went back to Kentucky to find a new wife. No cell phones connected Thomas Lincoln to the children - they were essentially left in the cabin to fend for themselves.
His sister (his only other sibling) died in childbirth.
His first girlfriend (before he met Mary Todd) died of typhoid.
His second eldest son died of TB when he was 3 years old.
His third eldest son died of typhoid at age 11 in 1862 during the Civil War.
Despite all this Lincoln was known for his sense of humor.
Lincoln freed the slaves.
Lincoln's intentions were not to punish the Southern states at the end of the war. After Lee's surrender to Grant, less than a week before Lincoln was assassinated, Lincoln requested that a celebratory band play "Dixie," outside the Capitol and is quoted as saying, "it is good to show the rebels that with us they will be free to hear it again."
Lincoln gave his life, literally, to preserve the union.
Over April vacation we drove to Pennsylvania in order specifically to go to Gettysburg. To take S someplace that President Lincoln also went to. Admittedly Lincoln was not perfect person but an incident described on a museum panel in a downtown Gettysburg museum summed up what's so lacking in today's presidential candidates that Lincoln seemed to have in spades. It was in the Wills House where Lincoln stayed the evening before the dedication of the National Cemetery where he would deliver a speech that would come to be known as the Gettysburg Address. The display noted that after Lincoln arrived at the Wills house a large crowd gathered outside in hopes that the President would make an appearance. Eventually Lincoln did come outside the door but rather than give an impromptu speech he declined, telling the crowd that he didn't have anything prepared and would rather not speak off the cuff, “In my position," he said, "It is somewhat important that I should not say any foolish things."
Evidently Abraham Lincoln knew when to speak up. And when to keep quiet.
Take a cue, today's politicians. Take a cue.

song: Abraham, Martin, and John • artist: Dion

1 comment:

The Silver Fox said...

Take a cue, indeed. What a classless bunch we have today.