Yesterday was the 205th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. Growing up, Lincoln was my hero. The first book I read was a biography of him, I collected Lincoln memorabilia, I even had a giant poster of him hanging on the wall at the foot of my bed. I wanted to be just like him when I grew up. To me he embodied what it meant to be an American. Of humble origins, with little education, and a thin reedy voice he rose to become the leader of his nation and guide us through a terrible civil war. A lesser man would have given up but he had faith that right made might.
Nowhere is that faith better embodied than in his Second Inaugural Address. Often people like to quote the last paragraph where he speaks of binding up the nations wounds "With malice toward none, with charity for all..." I, however, like the third paragraph where he states, "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away." Hope. People may think that hope came with Barack Obama but it did not. Hope has always been here. Hope was here when the civil rights movement was roiling the nation. Hope was here when the nation mobilized for war after suffering disaster in Pearl Harbor and the devastation of the Great Depression. Hope was here marching with the suffragettes, shuffling through the lines with the immigrants at Ellis Island, and huddling around meager camp fires in Valley Forge. Hope is an action, hope is a prayer borne in breast of all who dream.
There are those today who say that there is no hope. That men and women are not capable of bettering themselves or this land. They say that we need the government to tell us how we are to live our lives and interact with our fellow human beings and environment. They say that only the government can give us hope and change. Some in government even say that they must dictate social policy for our own good. They are wrong. History bears witness to the fact that hope and change can only come from within and that social policy must come from the people if it is to have a lasting impact. Government of the people, by the people, and for the people is what the Republican Party has always stood for. From our abolitionist beginnings to today we have stood for the peoples right to self determination. We still proclaim "FONDLY DO WE HOPE" in a loud and clear voice and may we never stop doing so.
In this supposedly enlightened time when the political atmosphere is more poisonous than ever I urge everyone to read Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (link provided at bottom). What does it say to you? Thank you and God love you.