happy 200th birthday, abraham lincoln! today, february 12, 2009, is the big day. the bicentennial even has it's own very official website to coordinate the numerous nationwide activities planned to commemorate the milestone.
aside from the coincidence of having read "tried by war: abraham lincoln as commander in chief" the bicentennial would probably have gone by without comment. i also caught two pbs programs on lincoln this week: "the assassination of abraham lincoln" and "looking for lincoln." the former was well-constructed and visually powerful, but way too sympathetic to john wilkes booth. to rationalize (the word "understand" in this context is insulting) the actions of that despicable coward (who viewed himself as a hero) practically bordered on moral equivalency.
sorry for that rant - but i really didn't care much about the delusions that motivated booth to murder the president. on the other hand, "looking for lincoln" was impressive because not only did it focus on lincoln the myth, but sought to deconstruct the public image and find the real flesh and blood man. led by historian henry gates, we are shown lincoln through the eyes of the scholars who have spent years of their lives researching him. it's a must see program.
so find the time to think about lincoln - and what he did for the nation - today. even if it's as simple as checking out a penny - which, by the way, is getting a "back" lift (4 new images of various stages of lincoln's life will be minted for the reverse side!