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Monday, September 26, 2016

He had lost a son many years before, the boy barely more than a toddler when he died. Now another son was dead and grief sat on him like the shawl that draped his shoulders as he rattled around the big, cold house. His wife was emotionally troubled and spent money they did not have. His subordinates were insubordinate, convinced he was out of his depth and that they could do a better job. And his country had split along a ragged seam of geography and race, boys from Maine and Vermont fighting it out against boys from Georgia and Tennessee, their bodies left broken, bloated, bloody and fly-swarmed, dead by the profligate thousands.

It was against that backdrop that Abraham Lincoln decided to say thank you.

He issued a proclamation making the fourth Thursday in November a day of national gratitude. Almost 150 years later, it still is.

This year, the commemoration follows a bitter election, with secession being bruited about like some distasteful joke, and the atmosphere so acrimonious it calls to mind the years before the Civil War itself. It also comes as we are rediscovering our 16th president yet again, this time through Lincoln, a new film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis.

The movie has drawn rave reviews — and deservedly so. It frees Abraham Lincoln from the sarcophagus of marble in which great men are inevitably encased. Day-Lewis’ Lincoln steps down from the memorial to rail, scheme, despair, fret and, when all else fails, tell a folksy story as he attempts to shove the 13th Amendment — the one that ended slavery — through a balky Congress.

Amid all the renewed interest in Lincoln, one hopes we don’t miss the lessons inherent in the simple fact that a man of such profound grief made a statement of such profound gratitude. There is contradiction there — and the resolution thereof. Contradiction was the story of Lincoln’s presidency, his epic struggle to put North and South back together. It was also the story of his life.

  • Books and detailed articles have been written on it.
    Here is simple list of one cause=Loss Of Revenue via Tax Cuts fr the rich
    We borrowed(2001-2009) 6100 Billion and 86% was from three new Bush programs
    Two Wars—Tax Cut For Rich—Part D Medicare unfunded gift to pharma.
    %of GDP—-Revenue Expenditures
    2000————–20%——-18%
    2003————–16%——-20%
    2007————–18%——-20%
    2009————–15%——-25%
    2010————–15%——-24%
    2011————–15%——-25%
    2000-2011—Spend Increased 33%–Revenue fell 25%
    Today, a major world study, shows America has more Inequality in 90 nations
    than all but Namibia, Zimbabwe, Denmark and Switzerland.
    IN OECD we rank:
    #1—largest percent (24%)of work force has lowest pay
    #2—Least Tax on Corporations-Since 2008 paid annual rate of 10%.
    #3—Least taxed nation as percent (27%) of GDP in federal-state-local taxes
    #4—Inequality
    God Help The Divided States Of America

    • Don

      I THINK ALL AMERICANSSHOULD PAY THE SAME TAX, 15%.

      • rgrein

        Why? Even an atheist like me recognizes the inherent justice in the biblical story of the widow who gave a penny, unable to afford more. Christ’s answer to the priests who mocked her gift says everything. Nearly all schools of ethics agree. You sir, should be ashamed.

        Now Romney’s 14% contribution….

  • Don

    “WHEN YOU LOOK FOR SOMETHING BAD IN A PERSON, YOU SURELY WILL”
    ABRAHAM LINCOLN

  • sigrid28

    Leonard Pitts, Jr.: A very fine article worthy of its subject, which is saying something. Nothing to add, but I wish to refer you and the National Memo community to a three-hour biography of Lincoln, “Lincoln” (directed by Vikram Jayanti, 2005), which appeared on the History channel recently. It focused on Lincoln’s personality, particularly his many episodes of totally debilitating depression and, by contrast, the enormity of his achievements in spite of them.

    A century before the more adequate medicinal and therapeutic treatments for depression that we have now, as a young man with no family nearby, Lincoln had no recourse but to depend on the kindness of friends and neighbors, those living in the communities where he studied and practiced law. One time, they took turns keeping 24-hour watch over him when he was at his worst. During another episode, his best friend, the son of a wealthy slave owner, fed and housed him for months on the family’s plantation, until Lincoln recovered enough to return to his law practice. His law partner, at a time when lawyers sat each day around a large table facing each other when they were in their one-room office, put up with Lincoln’s inability to speak for hours on end, sitting with his head in his hands. These self-appointed caregivers, in one way or another, nursed him through each episode until he recovered. What resulted was a very unique brand of toughness, the practically inhuman capacity to face impossible odds and endure unspeakable atrocities, without losing sight of ideals or fleeing from the compassion to feel and comprehend the crucible that ultimately consumed his family, his country, and finally Lincoln himself.

    At a time when mental illness is still not treated as a a medical condition by standard health care coverage, when those suffering from depression (especially veterans) and their families often cannot afford expensive medicines and therapies even though effective treatments are available, the example of Lincoln, with his amazing outcome as an individual suffering life-long depression, and his caregivers, who were heroic in their own right, should give us stamina in the fight to insist that the provisions of ACA include mental health parity.

  • Hope springs eternal.It is not possible to express anger and gratitude at the same time.A Safe and Happy Thanksgiving To All.