Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Friday, August 27, 2010

Glenn Beck Dishonor At The Lincoln Memorial

By now many, if not most, of you have heard about the "Restoring Honor" rally to be held tomorrow (August 28, 2010) by Glenn Beck at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In addition to Beck, people who have been invited to speak are former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre, and gun enthusiast and singer Ted Nugent.

Although Beck claims that this rally is not to be political, news reports are stating that most of the attendees tomorrow will be Tea Party activists. No surprise here, for most of Beck's and Palin's disciples also identify themselves as members of the Tea Party, that loose collection of groups which are simply angry at, well, just about everyone. Well, everyone except for Beck and Palin.

"Restoring Honor" of course implies that this nation has lost its honor. What honor has the United States lost? Honor for the troops? There have been no massive protests against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as the nation experienced in the 1960's against the war in Viet Nam. Soldiers are honored for their service and sacrifice to our nation, unlike when they were called "baby killers" by many people forty years ago. Today when a soldier falls, communities across our nation honors him or her with solemn and mournful services and processions. The honoring of our troops does not need to be restored.

I can help Mr. Beck to recognize some of the honor he and his fellow speakers need to restore. For starters, Beck can find the personal honor (if he knows what that means) to not call the President Of The United States a "racist with deep-seated hatred of white people." He can in the future find all the facts before he runs a person out of government as he did with Shirley Sherrod a few weeks ago, claiming she was racist when she really wasn't. He can further restore his own honor if he quits comparing his rally tomorrow to the rise of Abraham Lincoln.

Sarah Palin can help restore honor to the nation as well by promising to never again quitting an elected position in the middle of her term as she did as Alaska governor. That shows a lack of commitment, dedication, and personal integrity. In short, a total lack of honor.

The Tea Party protesters can aid in the restoration of honor by eliminating the racist overtones of their protests. Yes, the majority of the protesters do not carry signs with vile names, but there have been enough of them to give the movement a threatening tone.

Beck claims that this rally is also to "reclaim civil rights." It is an insult that this rally is being held on the anniversary of the defining moment of the civil rights struggles of the 1950's and 1960's. Tomorrow is the 47th anniversary of the immortal "I Have A Dream" speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the March On Washington in 1963. A speech in which he professed the hope that one day his children would be judged "not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

The location of this rally is especially an insult to the memory and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln deeply believed in the words of the Declaration of Independence, especially in the words that "all men are created equal." He spoke of tolerance, equal rights, and freedom. He wrote in his message to Congress in 1862 "Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history.....The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation."

Our nation is going through a fiery trial of divisiveness and turmoil. The question is, will this era in our history light us down in honor, or dishonor to the next generation(s)? As long as we have people like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin holding such sway with their appeal to raw emotions of fear and hatred, I believe that dishonor is in our future.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Another New Lincoln Statue

New statues of Abraham Lincoln keep springing up seemingly every month or two. The latest is going to be dedicated in Galesburg, Illinois on September 6 during the annual Labor Day celebration in that town.

I found the information about this statue on the Galesburg Register-Mail website. According to the article, the monument to Lincoln weighs in at nearly five tons and measures eleven feet tall. Impressive to be sure. No city money has been spent on this statue; the entire cost of $30,000 was raised and donated by a local group of armed forces veterans. There is some local controversy over the location of the statue, some wanting it in a local park. Instead, it's to be erected near the local Amtrak depot, where nearly 99,000 people travel through annually.

Galesburg was the site of the fifth (of seven) debate held between Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois in 1858. On October 7, Lincoln and Douglas met on the grounds of Knox College to argue their positions mostly on slavery. Lincoln was, of course, anti-slavery and against its expansion while Douglas was for "popular sovereignty," i.e., letting the voters decide in the new territories whether or not to permit it. While Lincoln lost the election (held in the state legislature which was controlled by Democrats), he burst onto the national stage with his reasonable, well thought-out arguments. The debates led to his election as president in 1860.

The town of Galesburg has deep connections with Lincoln. The "Old Main" part of Knox College is the only surviving structure that served as a site for the debates between Lincoln and Douglas. Knox is home to the Lincoln Studies Center, one of the leading institutions in the country dedicated to studying the life of Abraham Lincoln. In addition, Galesburg is also the birthplace of the poet Carl Sandburg, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, two for his poetry and one for his monumental biography of Lincoln.

It's of course easy to understand why the local veterans' group chose to honor Lincoln and his presence in Galesburg with a statue. I wonder, though, if the $30,000 might have been better spent in remembering Lincoln's legacy. Lincoln always lamented his lack of a formal education and worked hard his entire life to make up for it. The money spent on this statue could have been used to establish scholarships in Lincoln's name for Galesburg students wishing to pursue higher education. It could have been donated to the local school system for a library or new computers. The Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College could have used it for further research into his life or for preservation of important papers.

No one wants to honor the life of Abraham Lincoln more than I. However, I am of the personal opinion that we can remember his contributions to our nation in better ways than erecting yet another statue. I am interested in my readers' opinions. What do you think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lincoln Is A Bit Too Honest

Many, probably most, people have seen the latest GEICO car insurance commercial featuring a "film clip" of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln as she asks him about her dress. The "gag" is that perhaps in this case, Honest Abe is a bit TOO honest for his own good. Here's the commercial in case you've not yet seen it. I find it to be very funny. I hope you do, too.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lincoln Expert's Collection Donated to Lincoln Library

A collection of hundreds of books owned by the late Lincoln scholar and expert David Herbert Donald has been obtained by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) in Springfield, Illinois. According to the article in the Chicago Tribune, at least thirty of the books were ones the ALPLM had not previously had in its collection.

Donald was the author of perhaps the best single-volume biography of Lincoln, published originally in 1995. The more recent "A. Lincoln" by Ronald White is equally outstanding. Donald also wrote other books about Lincoln. He was a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for biographies of Senator Charles Sumner (a friend of the Lincolns) and the novelist Thomas Wolfe. It's strange to me that Donald did not win the Pulitzer for any of his Lincoln works.

Dr. Donald was the recipient of the only lifetime achievement award the Lincoln Library and Museum has given thus far, being honored in 2005.

If you read only one book about Abraham Lincoln, you can do no better than Donald's "Lincoln" book. Dr. Donald passed away last year (coincidentally the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, of course) at the age of 88. He is missed in the Lincoln community.

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