Abraham Lincoln -- A man who saw the light in the darkness
Did you realize that Thanksgiving was officially created as a holiday during the Civil War!? That's probably something that everyone knows, but somehow it escaped my attention. During what was our nation's darkest hour, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday in November be celebrated as Thanksgiving day. (The timing was changed after his lifetime to include more shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.)
I think that's significant. Don't you? In 1863, my fore parents, like most of the country, were still suffering. My great-grandfather was still either a prisoner of war in a northern prison or had just been released in a prisoner of war exchange. My great-grandmother was trying to hold the family and huge farm together in the battle-torn, spy filled, full of commandeering bands from both armies environs of middle Tennessee Tennessee. There was much sickness and suffering about. Tennessee was one of the worst hit places, but it was not the only place in which suffering was still abounding. Mothers on both sides of the Civil War were still receiving messages stating that husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons were either captured, wounded, dead, or missing. Sherman was planning his famous march to the sea, which would leave so much destruction in its path.
Abraham Lincoln delivered his proclamation at Gettysburg, which represents where the war's brutality had been carried into northern land. (This is after his famous Gettysburg speech)
In the midst of all that darkness, the amazing Lincoln wrote a proclamation of such brevity and power of word, reminding us that the God of heaven has blessed us abundantly even though we were engaging in the national folly of Civil War. He was keeping foreign nations from taking advantage of our internal weakness in order to invade us. (What if they had invaded us! Hadn't thought of that! We'd have been easy pickings.) Lincoln goes on to list the many other ways God continued to bless us in our time of quarreling, war, and -- dare I say it --our time of sin. His words humble us, convict us, and remind us that even in our most horrific hour, God's tender mercy was with us. He showed us how to have eyes to look for God's mercy even in the darkest of times. There is always, always a reason to be grateful.
I wonder, did my fore-parents, though they were in the CSA, somehow hear these words and take heart? Were the many people in the union inspired by Lincoln's words? Somehow, his address seems more powerful to me than speeches given by politicians given today. They are more the words of a statesman who appeals to eternal, bankable truths to inspire his people to courage rather than someone who makes short-term promises to try to hype people into believing some sort of position.
Well said, President Lincoln. Well said.
The actual words of his address are in the next post.