I Am An American and Today I Celebrate Abraham Lincoln

Do you know who our 16th president was?

Does your 3rd grader?

As of today, thanks to a Congressional resolution, it is International Darwin Day, now and forever on February 12.

It also happens to be the birthday of one of the (I dare say the second) greatest Presidents in this America’s history.

The man who chose to fight instead of letting our country be divided. A man who felt that NO ONE was better than the other and freed the slaves.

Yet he and the Greatest president, George Washington, are now relegated to Presidents Day, a day for giant sales, and no longer garnering any attention other than a bargain on your sofa.

As a homeschool mom, I turned to one of my favorite kids education apps today, Brain POP, as part of my Abraham Lincoln lesson plan. It is his birthday after all, to teach the boy about the Gettysburg Address and The Emancipation Proclamation, also his famous Inaugural Speech. What did I find? NOTHING, nothing about Abraham Lincoln and FIVE videos on Charles Darwin.

And we wonder what is wrong with this country.

abraham lincoln

Apparently, the Congress has decided this is no longer a day for Americans to celebrate the president who saved our country.

Yes. He saved our country.

On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that “all men are created equal” a self-evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim “a self-evident lie.”
–August 15, 1855 Letter to George Robertson

He did not want to go to war. But he knew that he couldn’t let this country become divided.

Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came …. Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
–March 4, 1865 Inaugural Address

I want my son to understand the greatness of this man. The history on which our country was built. A man who stood for the people.

How hard must it have been to be the one to write the Emancipation Proclamation. Knowing that half of the country would be against it? To do what he knew to be right? To make the decision to go to war? To stand for what is right? To stand for equality, for people?

I want my son to always remember him. To know who he is, what he has done.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the first Civil Rights activist, nor was he the most important. Without Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr. may have never existed. And yet, Martin Luther King, Jr still has a very important, quite revered, day dedicated to him. And he deserves it. Just as Abraham Lincoln does.

When Abraham Lincoln said these words:
Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
–December 1, 1862 Message to Congress

He was correct.

And now, what do our words say about us? What does it say that a man who wrote a book about a theory, a man who is not an American, is more revered by The United States Congress, on the day of his birth, than the man who freed the slaves?

We are Americans. There is an America because Abraham Lincoln believed it was important to fight for our Union, a word that always represented The United States as a whole country before and after it was divided. History demands that we not forget. And yet we do, and as we forget about the greatness that made us – the fissures begin, and with each year that passes they turn into cracks.

Many who keep their eyes open see that our country is not what it once was. We are a nation divided, again. The principles that our country was built on are now looked at as the words of an antiquated belief system. Misinterpreted, misused, and misrepresented.

I implore you to take 5 minutes out of your life and watch this video of the Gettysburg address. Please, watch it with your children, make sure they see the tears in the eyes of the people who read it after they are done. One should be moved by this speech, it is not just “Four Scores and Seven Years Ago”, it is not just a speech to be memorized. It is a speech to take into your heart, to remember, this is what our country was built on.

It is filmed by Ken Burns and includes the great actors; Sam Waterson, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang, and Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha. As well as author David McCullough and the score is composed by John Williams.

Please. Don’t forget. We were once a great nation, that could not be denied. The further we remove ourselves from our history, the further we travel from greatness.

23 thoughts on “I Am An American and Today I Celebrate Abraham Lincoln

  1. Jen – How many times have I said in my blog that we are becoming a nation of politically correct idiots? We are no longer supposed to have individual thoughts, express individual feelings, or develop individual philosophies as the masses will be offended by it. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. Royalty once ruled the world as slaves and serfs had no say in the matter. Revolution upon revolution took place and changes were installed. Still, today, we find ourselves once again re-entering a time when there is the rich (royalty) and the poor (slaves and serfs) with the middle gap increasing daily. Those born in the last thirty years cannot realize the difference in human reasoning (common sense) that has occurred over that same time period. We can’t forget what Abe Lincoln and others devoted their lives to fight and overcome. Otherwise, we will find the darkness overcoming us again. Great post!

  2. I don’t have anything against Darwin, but I have to agree — it is so important that we remember Lincoln and everything he did for our country and its people. He’s easily my favorite president. I wish we had candidates like him today.

  3. I never, ever comment from my phone but cannot leave this post without agreeing wholeheartedly with you and I cannot add anything to the perfectly worded comment left by our friend Rich. Excellent post. Point made.

  4. And that is the difference between good teachers and not so good teachers. I don’t understand why there isn’t more emphasis on history. We don’t have presidents and a special day for our prime ministers but we do learn extensively about what made us a country. We don’t designate a special day of reflection for an individual but rather a collective reflection for the birth of our country, respect and honour for our military, Queen (not the band although that would be awesome) wordswordswords. I understand and fully respect the men and women who shaped your beautiful country, but I don’t understand why every day is turning into someone’s special day. Why can’t it just be taught in school like it should be.
    Where is Oprah in the mix. What day is her day? Totally fucking with you. I hate Oprah.

  5. Well done, Jen. As a fellow teacher and parent, I applaud you. I am frequently amazed at the things kids do not know today that when we were growing up were sort of considered “common knowledge.” It’s a dumbing down of society and I think it’s a travesty – Rich already said it well. In our home, we fight against the ignorance and lack of interest – my kid knows about Lincoln and I’m proud that she does. This was a great read after driving home in the midst of stupidity and snow panic.

  6. I want to watch that video! Thank you for sharing it. President’s birthdays are like Valentine’s Day to me. I don’t like Valentine’s Day b/c I think couples should be nice to each other all year long, not just on one day. Really, what should happen is more focus on history throughout the year. And, as an aside, my husband (and now daughter) is related to Abraham Lincoln. George’s mom’s maiden name was actually Lincoln!

  7. Jen this is amazing. Simply amazing. You are the homeschool parent that should be teaching my daughter who instead is celebrating 100th day of school day by dressing as an old person rather than learning about the history that makes it okay for a girl to sit in a classroom with a boy. No matter what their color, race or creed.

    This is by far your most spectacular post ever.

  8. Yes, so important that people know about Lincoln and his complicated thoughts and actions. And I’m so glad that your son is learning it. But this European history teacher feels compelled to mention that Darwin was important too – not just the impact on science but on philosophy and the church and art and so many other areas of human endeavor. And while it is called the ‘theory’ of evolution, in science theory doesn’t have the same meaning that we may use it for casually, as in, “I have a theory about that …” Gravity is also technically a theory, but there’s pretty compelling evidence in its favor. Thought-inspiring post!

  9. Great post. It seems like, as a nation, we have our priorities all wrong sometimes. Celebrating Darwin over Abe Lincoln? Really that just doesn’t seem right.

  10. Ad an outsider to American history and the American educational system this has been a really interesting debate for me to follow and I really enjoyed learning from you and the comments that followed. It seems like there’s a symbolical value to celebrating Darwin, but you’ve definitely demonstrated how there’s one to celebrating Lincoln too.

  11. Wow. First, I feel like I could never do as good of a job homeschooling as you do and second? Yes, Abraham Lincoln was amazing and totally deserves his own holiday. He DOES. the end. But it’s not really the end is it? Because the thing about history is that it’s all stories and important ones and how many other stories were lost? How many people in Lincoln’s history made a huge difference in him deciding that he needed to do this? What of his family and his life? WHY was he such a man of greatness, and is that still possible today? Today’s “men of greatness” are so often assholes, and losers with financial backing. That’s sad. I’m so glad that you’re teaching your son greatness and importance and The Things That Matter. You ROCK, Jen. Big big big time.

  12. Loved the video! As a Canadian with deep American roots, all I can say here is: I’m so grateful that there are still people like you. Who will maintain those standards so dearly won. Who will remember the past so as not to have to repeat it. Thank you.

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