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Friday, February 12, 2010

This Month in History: Happy Birthday to a Great Writer

“Writing – the art of communicating thoughts to the mind, through the eye – is the great invention of the world.”

So said Abraham Lincoln, our sixteenth President, whose birthday we celebrate today, February 12. Although Lincoln is best known as one of our most beloved Presidents – the one who sustained our country through the Civil War – he is also known for his eloquence. He prepared speeches with great care, selecting just the right turns of phrase. He wrote correspondence filled with genuine emotion, connecting him to the common people of his time. Perhaps his most notable letter was sent in 1864 to Mrs. Lydia Bixby:
I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln
Today this letter reminds us of Lincoln’s literary achievements and sincerity, his enduring gifts to us on his 201st birthday.