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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lincoln isn't a cliche

Tomorrow is Lincoln's 200th birthday. What strikes me this morning is that it's almost impossible to talk about Lincoln without reverting to cliches. Which is why I like to walk past his house, less than two miles from mine, and look at the simple two-story building and imagine him walking down that street. Anybody can walk there. It's federal property. But no gates, no big fences to keep you out. Just walk down 8th Street and there is the house. I love local writer Vachel Lindsay's poem, "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight." I like to tell our students they have a unique opportunity during their years here to absorb some of what Lincoln learned by living on the flat prairie. You are walking where Lincoln walked. You can experience that lasting principles matter. You can experience that doing the right thing will get you as much criticism as praise.

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