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Happy Birthday! President Lincoln!

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There is something about standing in the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC and reading the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address which gives you goose bumps. 

One line in the Second Inaugural reminds you what a caring and compassionate man Lincoln was. He was speaking about the coming end of the Civil War and he said: “With malice toward none; With charity for all.”

Lincoln was not simply a man of words, he put his words into practice. On the day that news arrived in Washington that the war was over, a crowd gathered at the White House and a military band was playing some festive music. Lincoln stood on the balcony of the White House and spoke. 

Instead of lashing out against the South, he spoke of the horrors of war. He spoke of families getting back together. He spoke of a time of peace. Then he said, “In a few moments I want the band to play and I’m going to tell them what I want them to play.”

Of course, the band started getting the “Battle Hymn of The Republic” ready to play. This had been the theme song of the North throughout the Civil War. 

But Lincoln crossed them up. He stood there and said: “The band will now play the theme song of the people we have called our enemy. They are not our enemies anymore! We are one people again. I want the band to play ‘Dixie.'”

Historians say there was a long, awkward pause. The band didn’t even have the music to “Dixie,” but they finally got it together and played, “Dixie.” Lincoln knew that the South was not only hurting because of the horrors of the war, but they also were hurting because of the shame that accompanies defeat. 

Lincoln was sending a clear signal to the North and to the South. Lincoln was telling everyone that there would be no punishment upon the South. Lincoln was saying that the South would be treated with love and compassion.

When you love, after the patterns of Jesus, caring and compassion become the cornerstone of your love. Love is not vicious or hostile. Love does not try to compound the guilt. Love doesn’t try to rub salt in the wounds of shame. With all of our divisions today, Oh, does America need an Abraham Lincoln today!

Thanks to Robert Allen for these words.

What have YOU done in YOUR life similar to Lincoln asking the band to play “Dixie”?

Happy Birthday, President Lincoln!! You truly helped make America the great country that it is!!


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