Happy 200th birthday, Mr. Lincoln. As John Oates, part of the duo of Hall and Oates once said, "If you look over the years, the styles have changed - the clothes, the hair, the production, the approach to the songs. The icing to the cake has changed flavors. But if you really look at the cake itself, it's really the same."
When it comes to politics and presidencies, however, I'm not sure that quote works. What do you think? We all know Lincoln was called "Honest Abe" and my cynical self wonders if the words honest and politician are oxymorons. All I know is all the focus on Lincoln's bicentennial has grabbed my attention, the attention of every teacher in the nation using this event as a teachable moment--and certainly our own president Barack Obama who will speak in Springfield tonight at the Abraham Lincoln Association's annual Lincoln birthday banquet. How I would have loved, as an archivist, to have laid my own hands on the Lincoln swearing-in bible Obama used at his own inauguration.
This cake was served on February 1 when the Palos Verdes Peninsula Library District celebrated the birthday at the Malaga Cove Library. Dr. Larry Burgess, the archivist of the A.K. Smiley Public Library's Lincoln Memorial Shrine came to speak about "Why Lincoln Matters."
I do know that I was awestruck when I visited Washington, DC long ago and saw the Ford Theater where Lincoln was shot and the nearby William Peterson home where Lincoln was taken and where he died the following morning. The man I was traveling with was 6'5" tall and very lanky and there was a place where you could measure yourself against Lincoln himself. They were similar in height. But it's the Lincoln Memorial itself that brought tears to my eyes. I've been listening to a lot of radio clips about Lincoln's life lately and watching specials about him including the Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation. As a kid learning about him, I didn't have the life experience to appreciate his profound contributions to our country. I do understand that now although within the context of those times.
If you would like to follow the year-long Lincoln bicenentennial celebration at the official site, go to Lincoln 200.
When he spoke at the PV Library, Dr. Burgess also invited the entire community to visit the Lincoln Memorial Shrine in Redlands, which is a memorial not only to the Lincoln and the Civil War period, but is a research center and a respository museum, library and archives. During the summer I'll make it a point to get there for an outing.
Also, happy 200th birthday to Charles Darwin, the evolutionary biologist. You can check out all his celebrations at Darwin Day. All I know is that I believe in evolution and also in some kind of Higher Power as first cause, but I'll be the first to admit that I am not that familiar with science--or with politics, for that matter.
I do know this. No one will be celebrating my bicentennial and probably not yours either. Just the facts, mam.