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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,