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She began to read aloud. We stood, my daughter and I, inside the Lincoln Memorial in 1999. Etched to the right of the president’s statue, Chelsea read from Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. The boisterous noise of others around subsided to silence as this 12-year-old recited the heart-rending words from a leader whose nation had been wounded by The Civil War. Perhaps the audience was suddenly quiet out of respect for a young woman’s voice emboldened to repeat a historical text. But I would like to think that the words themselves brought solemnity to the monument. America, torn by internal strife, reflected the soul of Abraham Lincoln.
Upon the occasion of his reelection, Lincoln chose to be generous with those who opposed him. In part he said,
“Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange . . . but let us judge not, that we be not judged.”
Lincoln, speaking of “the providence of God” and “His appointed time” intoned,
“The Almighty has His own purposes.”
Divine judgment against the sin of slavery was clearly marked as Lincoln woefully acknowledged,
“He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came.”
President Lincoln repented,
“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”
Most importantly, Lincoln offered reconciliation, as he concluded,
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
Recalling Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address reminds us of what is most important on Memorial Day Weekend: national reconciliation. For all those who have paid with their lives to secure our freedoms, we should seek to “bind up our nation’s wounds. For Truth in Two, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally grateful to live in the United States of America.
[First published: https://markeckel.com/2022/05/24/memorial-day-and-lincolns-second-inaugural/ ]