Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation

Karen Roth

We are celebrating The Gettysburg Address, written 150 years ago. What is it about Abraham Lincoln’s words that still draw us in today? Lincoln was a self-made man who hungered for a life of meaning and purpose. No stranger to loss and despair, his pain became the catalyst to his achievements. Ironically, the very experiences he would have liked to escape led to his great compassion and vision for a better United States. He was a thinker, a shrewd man who thought matters over and after careful deliberation, reached a decision. He had learned that timing was everything. And inside his soul resided a vulnerability that we relate to even today. Abraham Lincoln was a lot like us. He struggled and felt despair. Surely there must have been unseen tears rising from the compassion of a heartbroken man. He vowed: “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” And he meant it. He was not a saint or an idol. The problem with hero worship is when we put someone high upon a pedestal, we no longer see who they really are. We lose sight of the very frailties and humanness that originally inspired us. Lincoln stood with the common man. He was one of us. He would not want to be up on a pedestal. He preferred standing alongside everyone else. He wanted to laugh with us at a funny story and cry over a sad one. He was a regular man who achieved greatness because he cared. He found the right words to touch hearts. Lincoln brought hope, and today, we still need that. Karen Roth Ottawa, IL