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.
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.