I have become in the last year somewhat of a Civil War nut. And with this I have developed a somewhat bizarre infatuation with our 16th president, our tallest president, our greatest president…Abraham Lincoln.
I learned all about the civil war and Mr. Lincoln when I was in school…I think. See school is wasted on the young. I visited Washington DC in eighth grade…..a great historical trip with visits to the many monuments, the White House, the Capitol..I didn’t care. I was across the United States with NO parents staying in hotel rooms with my friends and meeting boys from other schools! Yeah so I was picked to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier..so what. Did you see that cute boy over there?
Flash forward some years (cough cough 18 years cough) and I would shit my pants for this opportunity.
Now my fifth and eighth graders are covering various aspects of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln and I am mesmerized…fascinated…enthralled. I want more!
In honor of this great man's birthday we went to a Civil War reenactment and reading of the Gettysburg Address this past weekend. Uh-maze-ing!
After hearing the Gettysburg Address we popped into Disneyland for a showing of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
It was a weekend of Lincoln.
I spend my sleepless nights lately googling Lincoln's great speeches and his words are constantly playing around in my head.
Here are some of my favorites… and these must be read with great command with long dramatic pauses, and great inflection at just the right words... it helps if you can do that great gravelly voice…you’ll get chills trust me…
“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?-- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!--All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
And of course…
“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate…we cannot consecrate…we cannot hallow…this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
And finally this bit about the civil war approaching is played out in the Great Moments show at Disney…they do such a great job with this. It is played along with a portrait done of Lincoln standing in the White House…his head is lowered and you can feel every emotion he must have had at that moment.
“”I know there is a God, and that He hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming, and I know that His hand is in it. If He has a place and work for me, and I think He has, I believe I am ready"
I am moved every time.
What a dork.
Did you know Lincoln dreamed of his own death a week before it happened? He dreamed he heard crying coming from a room in the White House. He sought out the room and upon finding it asked the crying woman who had died in the White House…she said the president.
I visited the scene of his death on that eighth grade trip. I took one picture. It’s somewhere in all my old crap. One picture ..lost among the hundred or so I took that trip…of me and my friends and some boys from (eegads) a public school that we met…all of us posing on the Potomac. In front of the Lincoln monument-a sliver of Abraham visible to the right of our smiling poses. WE were the subjects of the photos after all. Unaware of anything but ourselves..and frankly not really giving a fuck about much else.
Wasted. big time.
I’m making up for that now.
Maybe I should go back to school.
Would they let a 31 year old into the eighth grade? I hear they take a killer trip to DC =)
Happy birthday Mr. Lincoln.