Gorgeous George and Honest Abe: A President’s Day Reflection

George Washington by History RewoundAbraham Lincoln by roxweb

I grew up before there was a “President’s Day”.  We celebrated both “George Washington’s Birthday” and “Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday”.  I don’t remember getting off of school, though.  I think we just spent the whole day reading and hearing stories about Washington and Lincoln as well as drawing pictures and making crafts of their images.

I never really developed a strong interest in George Washington, even though I still remember a song in a play we did where I had a lead solo –

Me:  “We gotta have a leader.”

Chorus:  “Yeah, man.”

Me:  “He’s got to be strong.”

Chorus: “Yeah, man.’

Me:  “He’s got to be brave.”

Chorus:  “Yeah, man.”

Me:  “Who’s the man I’m talking about?

Chorus:  “G-E-O-R-G-E Washington.”

Honest Abe Lincoln, however, captured my imagination.  The stories of his growing up in a log cabin (I actually grew up in a converted log cabin), his passion for reading, his interest in fairness.  Later, I learned he battled bleak periods of despair, something I could deeply appreciate as well.

People debate Lincoln’s religious faith.  Secularists contend he never joined a church, which is true (though he regularly attended a Presbyterian church).  Christians point to the depth and  breadth of God in Lincoln’s writings.

Regardless of Lincoln’s standing in the Church, he clearly conveyed the most fully developed Biblical perspective of any politician before or since.  In an age of stark relativism, where “my truth” is more important than “the Truth” (which arguably, doesn’t exist), hear his words –

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

As for doubt and the existence of God, Lincoln shows both compassion and conviction –

“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

Finally, for someone who faced some of the greatest moral dilemmas of all time, he was clear where he most sought guidance –

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.  My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

What are your reflections of George and Abe today?

(image of George Washington from History Rewound, some rights reserved)

(image of Abraham Lincoln from roxweb, some rights reserved)

3 thoughts on “Gorgeous George and Honest Abe: A President’s Day Reflection

  1. I’ve always been fascinated with Abe Lincoln, even now as an adult. I am not a scholar on his religious faith or his writings, but after reading your post here I am interested in studying him further. Interestingly enough, my six (almost seven) year old son has taken an active interest in “Honest Abe” as well. 🙂

    This quote– “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” — is very striking to me.

    Thanks for writing this. I enjoy reading your thoughts and perspectives, Tony.

  2. I remember 2 separate holidays also. I think we did have them off from school.
    I just remembered a little song we sung:
    “Washington and Lincoln helped make our country great,
    and when their birthdays come around, we like to celebrate!”

    I think history has re-written Abe to the point where we don’t know what was real or not.
    I have read that he suffered with depression.
    Another interesting tidbit is that during the Battle of Gettysburg, the NY riots were going on in rebellion against Lincoln’s draft. Anyone who paid $300 didn’t get drafted. I don’t remember learning this in school 😉

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