It’s a big year for our 16th president. Throughout the year, the Lincoln Bicentennial (www.lincolnbicentennial.gov) will celebrate his life, his work, and his words. Considered among the most revered Americans of all time, Lincoln continues to captivate our imagination and inspire the nation. Our 44th president counts Abraham Lincoln among his list of heroes, even placing his hand on the same burgundy-velvet-bound Bible that President Lincoln used at his first inauguration.
On the 200th anniversary of his birth, our nation continues to strive to advance Lincoln’s ideal to build a more perfect union. Certainly, that was the goal of the February 10, 1945 Post article Thoughts on Peace on Lincoln’s Birthday. The commemorative feature presented ideas on peace of two great Americans.
A Lincoln scholar who published a Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Honest Abe, Carl Sandburg found his inspiration for the poem The Long Shadow of Lincoln presented in the Post feature from one of the president’s messages to Congress in 1862. Artist Norman Rockwell drew inspiration from the last paragraph of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address that reads: “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; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
In the introduction to the article, Post editors wrote: “In the heart-lifting symbolism of Norman Rockwell’s great painting there is thought for all of us. For here we find not only the crippled soldier who must learn a new way of life, the builder who will help put a shattered world together, the teacher and her brood, and the sorrowing family of a fallen warrior, but also the hand of brotherhood extended to the downtrodden and, in the background, the less fortunate races of humankind who must not be forgotten if peace is to be anything more than an armistice. Here, in the faces and attitudes of these people, are determination and tolerance and the yearning for a better world.”