Friday, July 3, 2009
An American Combination of Goodness and Greatness
I can hardly reflect on the significance of Independence Day without thinking of our history. As I contemplate the past, I find so many lessons for the present. One man who continues to teach me is Abraham Lincoln. General William Tecumseh Sherman summed up the man, Abraham Lincoln, with these words:
"Of all the men I ever met, he seemed to possess more of the elements of greatness, combined with goodness, than any other."
And that's what I love about Lincoln. He combined goodness and greatness. He himself said: "Whatever you are, be a good one". In my eyes, not only was he a good man, but he was a great president. He deserves so much credit for keeping our American experiment with democracy alive.
I remember showing a video during one of my first years teaching U.S. History about Abraham Lincoln's life and presidency. I'm not much of a crier. I don't know why. It's not like I object to getting emotional. I just really don't do it very often. But by the time that video ended, after his assassination, I actually felt like crying. I felt a sense of personal loss for a great man, and also a loss for how things could have worked out differently for our country.
As it turns out, thanks to him, things worked out pretty good. And as far as I'm concerned, the man lives up to the legend.
Happy Fourth of July.