Shall not perish from the earth

There are moments in history when time and circumstance come together in the most appropriate fashion. Such is the case today when President George W. Bush is scheduled to travel to Springfield, Illinois, to participate in the official dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. True to the spirit of the day and the memory of the Emancipator, President Bush's remarks will be brief.

Yet that is not the only reason why it is most appropriate that this particular president is in position to help dedicate this particular presidential library.

Not since President Lincoln has an American president been confronted with a level of carnage within the borders of the United States that President Bush faced in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. While the Civil War was different, and much deadlier to the American populace, the threat we continue to face is no less serious. Both presidents staked their reputations, and risked their electoral lives — and in the 16th president's case his very life — upon beating back these threats and upon policies advocating the freedom of the enslaved.

Both men have been vilified as morons, and compared to apes and chimps. Both have been accused of gleefully trampling on civil liberties and the Constitution of the United States. Both were accused of being warmongers who gloried in the blood of not only combatants, but civilians, too. Although the word was not in fashion in the nineteenth century, 'peace' activists wanted President Lincoln (not the Confederacy) to put an end to the gory quagmire of war so that no more blood would be shed, Union be damned.

Similarly, President Bush's critics in the know—nothing press and Congress shouted 'quagmire!' well before the time a shot was fired in Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. An operational pause for a sandstorm a few days into the invasion of Iraq yielded extravagant comparisons to Vietnam. Even after successful elections in a free Iraq were held, some of these critics were still carping, making up the lyrics, but always singing the same tune. Meanwhile, cooler heads in the media of the world gazed collectively into their linty navels and began to ask themselves, 'What if the cowboy has been right?'

As President Lincoln was blamed for the beginning of hostilities for harboring American naval vessels near Ft. Sumter, President Bush has been excoriated for waging war on Iraq on false premises. That President Bush was upholding a truce violated by Saddam Hussein, and had every moral, legal, and logical reason to enforce it with arms was seemingly lost in the hysteria to label President Bush a war criminal. That his opponent in the 2004 election was an admitted war criminal did not seem to bother those same critics who evidently would gladly shed sovereignty to the very body that could not enforce its own laws, creating the problem in the first place.

President Lincoln and President Bush both understood the stakes of the violence that had been visited upon this nation by its enemies, and the sacrifice that those who gave their lives — knowingly and unwittingly — made for American freedom. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg:

'It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honoured 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 the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'

Here is President Bush, addressing the Joint Session of Congress on the night of September 20, 2001:

'Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered a great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom — the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time — now depends on us. Our nation — this generation — will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.'

President Lincoln's determination to free the slaves, and his further, stated intention to grant suffrage to black men was the tipping point for a man named John Wilkes Booth, who, after hearing Lincoln's plans during a speech from a window at the White House, vowed that it was the last speech Lincoln would ever deliver. Booth made sure of it.

We pray to God that President Bush be granted safe voyage the remainder of his term, and that he may live to see now and in the years to come the hundreds of thousands of men and women who live and will live in freedom thanks to his decisions and the actions of the armed forces of the United States and its allies. Truly it can be said that President Lincoln and President Bush unchained the imprisoned, unlocked the chains of faraway dungeons and torture chambers, bringing freedom and democracy to enslaved millions.

Although at times in this troubling atmosphere of distortion, ignorance, and outright lies from those who refuse to see, millions of Bush—haters would laugh to think that President Bush would one day share a hallowed place in the pantheon of American presidents.

But it will be so. Lincoln and Bush will be remembered by history as liberators who risked their electoral lives to ensure that the Union would endure, and that those who suffered in the bondage of oppressors would be free. When President Bush addresses the throng in Springfield today, it is not only an honor that comes as a perk of the presidency and a quirk of serendipitous timing, but it is an honor that he richly deserves. 

Matthew May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com; his blogsite is http://mattymay.blogspot.com

There are moments in history when time and circumstance come together in the most appropriate fashion. Such is the case today when President George W. Bush is scheduled to travel to Springfield, Illinois, to participate in the official dedication of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. True to the spirit of the day and the memory of the Emancipator, President Bush's remarks will be brief.

Yet that is not the only reason why it is most appropriate that this particular president is in position to help dedicate this particular presidential library.

Not since President Lincoln has an American president been confronted with a level of carnage within the borders of the United States that President Bush faced in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. While the Civil War was different, and much deadlier to the American populace, the threat we continue to face is no less serious. Both presidents staked their reputations, and risked their electoral lives — and in the 16th president's case his very life — upon beating back these threats and upon policies advocating the freedom of the enslaved.

Both men have been vilified as morons, and compared to apes and chimps. Both have been accused of gleefully trampling on civil liberties and the Constitution of the United States. Both were accused of being warmongers who gloried in the blood of not only combatants, but civilians, too. Although the word was not in fashion in the nineteenth century, 'peace' activists wanted President Lincoln (not the Confederacy) to put an end to the gory quagmire of war so that no more blood would be shed, Union be damned.

Similarly, President Bush's critics in the know—nothing press and Congress shouted 'quagmire!' well before the time a shot was fired in Afghanistan, let alone Iraq. An operational pause for a sandstorm a few days into the invasion of Iraq yielded extravagant comparisons to Vietnam. Even after successful elections in a free Iraq were held, some of these critics were still carping, making up the lyrics, but always singing the same tune. Meanwhile, cooler heads in the media of the world gazed collectively into their linty navels and began to ask themselves, 'What if the cowboy has been right?'

As President Lincoln was blamed for the beginning of hostilities for harboring American naval vessels near Ft. Sumter, President Bush has been excoriated for waging war on Iraq on false premises. That President Bush was upholding a truce violated by Saddam Hussein, and had every moral, legal, and logical reason to enforce it with arms was seemingly lost in the hysteria to label President Bush a war criminal. That his opponent in the 2004 election was an admitted war criminal did not seem to bother those same critics who evidently would gladly shed sovereignty to the very body that could not enforce its own laws, creating the problem in the first place.

President Lincoln and President Bush both understood the stakes of the violence that had been visited upon this nation by its enemies, and the sacrifice that those who gave their lives — knowingly and unwittingly — made for American freedom. As Lincoln said at Gettysburg:

'It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honoured 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 the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.'

Here is President Bush, addressing the Joint Session of Congress on the night of September 20, 2001:

'Great harm has been done to us. We have suffered a great loss. And in our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. Freedom and fear are at war. The advance of human freedom — the great achievement of our time, and the great hope of every time — now depends on us. Our nation — this generation — will lift a dark threat of violence from our people and our future. We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.'

President Lincoln's determination to free the slaves, and his further, stated intention to grant suffrage to black men was the tipping point for a man named John Wilkes Booth, who, after hearing Lincoln's plans during a speech from a window at the White House, vowed that it was the last speech Lincoln would ever deliver. Booth made sure of it.

We pray to God that President Bush be granted safe voyage the remainder of his term, and that he may live to see now and in the years to come the hundreds of thousands of men and women who live and will live in freedom thanks to his decisions and the actions of the armed forces of the United States and its allies. Truly it can be said that President Lincoln and President Bush unchained the imprisoned, unlocked the chains of faraway dungeons and torture chambers, bringing freedom and democracy to enslaved millions.

Although at times in this troubling atmosphere of distortion, ignorance, and outright lies from those who refuse to see, millions of Bush—haters would laugh to think that President Bush would one day share a hallowed place in the pantheon of American presidents.

But it will be so. Lincoln and Bush will be remembered by history as liberators who risked their electoral lives to ensure that the Union would endure, and that those who suffered in the bondage of oppressors would be free. When President Bush addresses the throng in Springfield today, it is not only an honor that comes as a perk of the presidency and a quirk of serendipitous timing, but it is an honor that he richly deserves. 

Matthew May can be reached at matthewtmay@yahoo.com; his blogsite is http://mattymay.blogspot.com