He was a man who knew the virtues of humility and the vices of partisanship. He was a president who understood that the greatest deeds spring from the most resonant words. And as president, he actually wrote his own speeches. One of these gave voice to some of the most cogently eloquent ideas about governance and democracy ever penned. It is the idea of government of the people, by the people and for the people.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th 200 years ago. The home he once inhabited during the most fateful days of the Republic is now filled by a youthful president and a first family who are a living testimony to the “proposition that all men are created equal,” as Mr. Lincoln proclaimed and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. envisioned. Color has never determined the music of a child’s laughter or a father’s dream for a better life. And character is often measured by the extent to which individuals bring tolerance, opportunity and fairness to the quarters of society where they are forgotten.
A government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not a bad idea to bear in mind during times of testing, whether in the bitter winter of a civil war long ago or in the cold storms of financial turmoil today.
Leaders and ideas make a difference. Mr. Lincoln provided a towering model for both. He casts a long shadow over history, but perhaps not so long that someone cannot someday fill a similar role and step into the sunlight that will bring hope and opportunity to many again.
Happy Birthday, Mr. President.