The Townhall Review — December 29, 2018
Michael Medved takes us on an appreciative tour of Abraham Lincoln: the wartime president, a phenomenal leader, a man with brilliant rhetorical gifts, and unparalleled political prowess.Read More »
On the eve of Civil War, Abraham Lincoln concluded his First Inaugural Address with two sentences of incandescent eloquence: “Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
These words remind us that Lincoln—whose legacy we honor on President’s Day—became one of the greatest English prose writers in history, despite his background as an impoverished frontier boy with only a year of schooling. His rise constitutes one of the many American miracles that should inspire anyone willing to look with open eyes at our uniquely blessed past.
Throughout the Civil War and till the day of his death, Lincoln followed the approach later recommended by Bismarck: Listen for God’s footsteps marching through history, then grab his coattails and hang on.
May we see God’s design for America as we celebrate President’s Day.
For nearly 50 years now, Freedom House has published its annual survey of the freest countries in the world. This year’s report contains some troubling news.
First, with an increase in authoritarian regimes and populism, overall freedom in the world declined in the past year.
Second, the United States, after dropping a point in freedom last year, lost another point this year. Where would you rank the U.S. among the freest countries? Number one or two, certainly in the top 10? No, the U.S. is now tied for 45th.
Though we are still rated as “free,” the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. Burdened by over-regulation, with attacks on our political system from within and without, American democracy is seen as troubled.
Abraham Lincoln wisely said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” When it comes to freedom, we should never be content to say, “we’re number 45.”
A group of students at University of Wisconsin used the recent Indigenous People’s Day to try to discredit Abraham Lincoln. They covered a monumental statue of the 16th President with derisive signs and staged a “Die-In” in front of it.
“Let’s be real,” said a protest leader. “He owned slaves, and ordered the execution of native men.” Actually, he stopped the execution of native men. In December, 1862, after military tribunals convicted 303 Sioux warriors of rape and murder for slaughtering more than 800 Minnesota civilians, Lincoln commuted sentences of 264 of them. He allowed punishment only for those who had brutalized non-combatants, not the fighters who killed 77 U.S. soldiers in the midst of the Civil War.
And as to the charge that Lincoln owned slaves: he never did, and from boyhood always hated the evil institution. It’s also evil for America-hating activists to deploy false, ignorant charges to tarnish the legacy of our greatest president.
The dangerous world we are looking at today serves as an appropriate backdrop for our expression of gratitude for those who have died in the service of our nation.
From the time of our nation’s founding to today, well over 1.2 million Americans have paid the ultimate price in the service of our country.
Today is a day for us to say, “thank you.” It is also a day for us to dedicate ourselves.
In 1863 Abraham Lincoln called our country to an “unfinished work.” And, in many respects, we remain an unfinished work.
Our commitment—the commitment of “the living”—to the values and freedoms our honored veterans fought for makes clear that they did not die in vain.
To those who have served or are serving today: A grateful nation says, “thank you.”
To those listening who have a loved one who died for this great cause: A special thanks to you—and a heartfelt civilian salute from me (and all my friends here at the Salem Media Group).
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