A measure of great height

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Jeffrey L. Neuberger
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
"I don't know who my grandfather was, I'm much more concerned to know what his grandson will be."

These were the words of Abraham Lincoln, our nation's 16th President of the United States. Looking back through the lens of history we know what kind of man Lincoln became and how he led our nation through a difficult period in its history.

I think it's fitting we observe Lincoln's birthday the same month as we recognize Black History month. The struggles of our African American brothers and sisters through American history would be decidedly different were it not for many who stood for the abolition of slavery, chief among them President Lincoln.

Early in our education we learn of the role of Lincoln in the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation which took effect Jan. 1, 1863, and led to the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States.

This is all stuff of history which you can read at your leisure -- I recommend the base library.

I'd like to focus on the character of Lincoln, a glimpse of which we see when we read about the moment he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

As Abraham Lincoln prepared to sign the Emancipation Proclamation, he took his pen, moved it to the signature line, paused for a moment, and then dropped the pen. When asked why, the president replied, "If my name goes into history, it will be for this act, and if my hand trembles when I sign it, there will be some who will say, 'he hesitated.'"

Lincoln then turned to the table, took up the pen, and boldly signed his name.

We may not be involved in dramatic moments such as President Lincoln, but we all place a signature on life with the choices we make. As a young man, Lincoln was concerned about who he would become and in his life he tried always to do the good thing.

Of Lincoln, David Lloyd George said "If you look at his portraits they always give you an indelible impression of his great height. So does his life. Height of purpose, height of ideal, height of character, height of intelligence."

Now there's something to live up to.