Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln
Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
Few life stories in American history are more compelling than that of the man who would come to be known as "Honest Abe". This self taught country lawyer came to power during this nation's darkest hour – when her very survival as a nation was in serious doubt. His tenure as Commander-In-Chief was one punctuated by some of the most terrible fighting ever to be seen upon this continent.
Some – dare I say most – men would have crumbled under the load he bore. That wasn't Lincoln's way. He believed that this nation would either prosper while united or fall as two divided states. He was loved by most, ridiculed by some, and loathed by a few. The monument honoring his legacy sits at the furthest end of the National Mall opposite the Washington Monument. The symbolism is accurate. Washington founded this nation. Lincoln preserved it.
Lincoln also anchors another unique symbol of America. Just as you enter Disneyland in Anaheim, California you pass the Opera House where one single attraction has headlined that venue since July 18, 1965. The main (and only) event at Disney's Opera House is "Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln".
Here an animatronic Abraham Lincoln rises from his chair, and with great fanfare recites the Gettysburg Address – 271 words which, despite Lincoln's prognostication, were remembered. If you've never stopped long enough to see this short show, I highly recommend it.
Prior to the Gettysburg Address show, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln was a slightly different attraction. Lincoln's speech was a synergy of several speeches he'd given over his lifetime about the basic underpinnings of America.
So, today take a moment and enjoy some truly Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.
The world has never had a good definition of the word "liberty". The American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty. But in using the same word, we do not all mean the same thing.
What constitutes the bulwark of our liberty and independence? It is not our frowning embattlements, our bristling sea coasts. These are not our reliance against tyranny. Our reliance is in the love of liberty, which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors.
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us in a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not, by force, take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?
I answer that if it ever reach us, it must spring from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be the authors and finishers. As a nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide.
Let reverence for the law be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be taught in the schools, in the seminaries, and in the colleges. Let it be written in primers, in spelling books and almanacs. Let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And in short, let it become the political religion of the nation. And let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes, and tongues, and colors, and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly at its altar.
And let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence, trusting that, in future national emergencies, He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, or frightened from it by menaces of the destruction to the government, nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might. And in that faith, let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
Here endeth the lesson.