These are words we remember. These are words that have come to exemplify President Lincoln. If we are to honor him today on his birthday, or on February 17th (Presidents Day) or ANY day, let us remember and ACT on those words. We do not honor this man or his presidency if we do not listen and live as he said. If they are just random words on a page with no meaning, than what is the point of even remembering the man?
We celebrate Lincoln. We have monument in his name in our nation's capital. His face graces our money. We honor him by using his name to grace schools, libraries and other public buildings.
Do we respect him? Do we honor him by remembering his words and following his example?
Lincoln was not popular during his own time in office. Our nation was split in two. We know from historical documents that the strife in our country weighed heavy on the mind of this man. This man who was known to be depressed. A man who was clearly NOT handsome in the conventional sense of the word. This was a man who was bullied; yet he did not stop working for what he felt was right. Yes, there was compromise, but that is part of his great leadership.
The words on the photo above come from Lincoln's second inaugural address. It was brief and concludes with "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
Lincoln recognized that while we need to fight for what is right; we also need to be charitable. When all is said and done, bitterness and vitriol must be vanquished. Malice towards NONE (that would include our "enemies" and charity of ALL (that would include those who do not look like us or think like us).
If you truly feel; if WE truly believe that Lincoln was one of greatest presidents then we need to remember those closing words of his 2nd inauguration and we need to ACT on them. Not just for one day, but every day!
And while I know that human nature will prevent that (because as humans we are imperfect), if we strive to follow his decree, we will be a better people, a better nation and a better world.