, Newburyport, MA


February 18, 2013

Forgetting Lincoln and Washington

To the editor:

I am writing this on Feb. 12. That date should mean something, but I wonder if it does much anymore to most people.

In today’s Daily News the only reference to Abraham Lincoln that I saw was in the comic strip Arlo and Janis. At least someone is remembering him.

Last night while watching TV, I saw an ad for a car sale for Washington’s Birthday that ends Feb. 18. Huh? Does anyone even remember his birthday is the 22nd?

These two presidents appear to be getting lost in time. In the 19th century, George Washington was revered for his accomplishments as a hero of the Revolution and as our first president. When John Adams was elected president, Washington relinquished his power, an act never done in history where a victorious leader held power. Subsequently, Washington’s birthday was revered almost as much as July 4th. Special events would take place and children would learn about him in school.

Even when I was a kid, I recall my grandmother making a cherry pie in honor of Washington’s birthday. The lattice crust always amazed me and it was the one day of the year we had this treat, making it all the more special.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as 16th president of the United States. He walked into his job that day with a task no other in his post has had to deal with. A number of states claimed they were no longer in the country. More would follow.

Dealing with his own personal demons, Lincoln managed to operate as commander-in-chief for the Civil War. Lincoln even insisted that the election of 1864 proceed, for if not, then the Rebels would surely have won, destroying the only form of republican government on earth at the time. He was determined that the country would not break into pieces under his watch. He was successful in that task, but lost his life when the mending was to begin.

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