The birthday of the 16th president of the United States is being commemorated quietly for the most part. However, Lincoln Day still remains a time for reflection on his greatness, and for special school observances.
The Republican Party in Juab County will hold its Lincoln Day banquet tonight. The Utah County event was held last week.
Lincoln, in his tenure as president (1861-1865) presided over a most costly war. He was a minority president whose election precipitated the most bitter and threatening crisis the nation had ever faced.
He served but little more than one month as a peacetime president, at the beginning of his first term. He enlarged and wielded the powers of his office as no chief executive had before and few have since, not hesitating to bend the Constitution when he considered it necessary.
Yet the paradox of this man is that we do not remember him as a warmaker, as a man of contention, certainly not as a dictator (though this and worse charges were made against him during the dark days of the Civil War).
We remember and honor Abraham Lincoln as a man of peace, as a man of humble origin who, despite the immense power thrust upon him by fate, never forgot that his commission derived from the people and was ever-conscious that history would judge him by how well he preserved the nation whose government was of, by, and for the people.
Above all, we think of Lincoln as a man of kindness, of high ideals and noble character.
Perhaps here is the key to the paradox that the man of war should be remembered as the man of peace, the conciliator who would, had he been permitted to live, have been the binder-up of the fearful wounds of a self-ravaged nation.
It is what Lincoln stood for, and how he conducted himself in accordance of what he stood for, that he has secured him an imperishable place in the hearts of Americans.
He believed that as he would be slave to no man, so he would be no man’s master; that the worker had a rightful claim to the just fruits of his labor; that the nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” was the last, best hope of earth.
Lincoln has become like a fixed star in the American firmament. His character and his ideals have been an example and a challenge for each succeeding generation.
As long as Americans remember Abraham Lincoln, as long as they honor him, that long will they continue to strive to realize the principles upon which the nation was founded nearly 200 years ago, that long will America, indeed, remain mankind’s last, best hope.