Our collective journey right now is a difficult one. Who do we believe? What are the hard truths we will have to face? Will we see more deaths because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Will our children safe in school? Will there be an effective and safe vaccine we can trust? Will our elections be tampered with by foreign enemies or even by our own home grown terrorists? Because chaos begets chaos and because hate begets hate and because uncertainty is a type of terrorism, we must unite to seek the truth. We cannot continue to allow anyone to divide us. We must unbury the American values we cherished so much. What happened to how we deplored big brother watching us, political coups, injustice, bigotry and leaders who lied to their people? Our country lived by values. We cherished our constitutional rights, our civil rights and liberties. What has happened to us? We were not perfect. But we knew about basic decency. We always knew what was the right thing to do for the good of us all. We the People must be the force of goodness, empathy, and compassion. We are all exhausted. We need positive energy to carry on our most valued right. The right to vote. These last few days I feel like I am in a labyrinth and here with the help of Pixabay I have tried to illustrate my poem.
I just heard the news that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed. The “Notorious RBG” was a strong and courageous woman. She served all people. My heart breaks because she was a role model for so many women my age. She made America a better place. We were so lucky to have her. God bless her. My condolences to her family and the thousands of women that emulated her.
Remember “Women belong where decisions are being made.”
As far as I know we do not celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on the exact day February 12 anymore. We celebrate President’s Day instead. No wonder some children have no idea which presidents we celebrate. I asked a 10 year old and he thought the days off are to celebrate all our presidents. Most schools close for a long weekend and of course we all look forward to the sales. But I wonder how many of us remember the date.
Well I want to celebrate Abe Lincoln and remind people of some facts (not alternative ones) and some of his thoughtful, eloquent oratory. Abraham was the 16th president of the United States. He was born in 1809 and died victim of an assassination on April 15, 1865. He was still in office when his assassin John Wilkes Booth shot him at the Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Lincoln was born in Kentucky and the son of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His mother died when he was just nine years old. He was self educated and loved to read. He ended up in the state of Illinois and became a lawyer and later ran as a Republican for a seat in the state senate and won at the age of twenty-five. He later became a congressman. He married Mary Todd and had four children.
We need to remember him for his Emancipation Proclamation in January of 1863 ordering for the freeing of slaves. This set forth the 13th Amendment which would free all slaves in the United States a few years later. During the Civil War Mr. Lincoln held the country together.
He is remembered for one of the greatest speeches in American History, He gave the speech at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863. It’s called the Gettysburg Address.
My first memory of knowing about our 16th president was a poem my teacher read us. She told us about how honorable and honest he was growing up and throughout his life. Two pretty good traits for a president.
I recently visited a family member whose home was built in 1865 and I had a flash back to that moment in my childhood when my teacher emphasized the importance of honest. I looked around the house. It was built around the time we had lost a great and beloved president. He was just fifty-two years old.
Here are a few of the quotes I remember learning about in school and thank my teacher for teaching us that these were quotes to live by. I think we must remember their value.
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
The Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
My tribute goes deep. One of my family members was first responder and we are grateful she is still in our lives. A couple of my former students at the time lost family members. A colleague lost his cousin. As everyone else, I remember vividly the events of the day. I can remember things I said, what I had for breakfast and the pounding of heart. It all started during the first period of the school day. I had to be strong for my students and the teachers under my supervision. I was not supposed to panic. I had to be strong for all of them. I remained as calm as I humanly could and tried to comfort the children who had been entrusted to me.
I did not breakdown until I returned home that evening and looked to the New York City skyline from my car to see the devastation. Although all I could see was smoke, I kept thinking of the people who lived in that area and all the lives lost. I thought about my old neighborhood and how terrified people must have been in those horrific moments. I thanked God that my family was safe. I recently visited the 9/11 memorial. It is amazing. It was very emotional and sad but at the same time I felt hopeful. I know we will never ever forget. I just pray that it gets better for all the family members who lost their loved ones. I did not realize or maybe I’d blocked out some of the facts of that day. Only six people survived. Most especially I was stunned to know that 11 unborn children had also perished. Now that I am a grandmother this fact is harder to accept. However, I believe with all my heart they are our angels of hope.
I did not write a poem this year but I focused on the numbers that appear in every newspaper, blog, flyer, book, and all accounts of that beautiful September day that became the most tragic day in the history of our country. May their souls rest in peace.