On this President's Day

On this President’s Day, who is your favorite president? Take a moment to think about that and then write back so we can all see. For me, it’s Abraham Lincoln – hands down. Of course, there have been many U.S. presidents I admire. And there have been some I could do without. How about you?

Lincoln, for me, was the most special. Yes, one can cite chapter and verse his leadership during the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the Gettysburg Address not to mention other achievements.

But what emerges most for me is his personal strength in the face of enormous adversity – and I don’t just mean the Civil War. Indeed, his story, as we all know, was not one of an easy journey. History books tell us that he suffered some kind of melancholy; he had to weather the storm of his child’s death while in The White House; he lost multiple elections before getting to The White House; he barely made it to his second term as president.

His achievements, as we know them today, were not readily apparent back then.

So, here we are on this President’s Day as we watch the next presidential contest begin. The candidates are aggressively jockeying for position, endorsements, and donations – long before they will ever ask anyone for a single vote.

On this President’s Day, I wonder what potential do these individuals hold? What standards should we apply to them? What personal journey will they be on? If Lincoln were to run today, he probably would not make it given our emphasis on packaging and the like. What, if anything, should that tell us about any of the current candidates? About ourselves?

Lincoln’s journey was made up of seemingly endless ups and downs. Through it all, he somehow kept on going. He engaged his rivals and often won their admiration; he gained the respect and devotion of the men who made up the Union Army, even while they themselves endured enormous hardship.

Somehow Lincoln kept persevering. He must have had a keen sense of what he valued and was important to him; and he must have held enough humility to hear the voices of others and to know when to engage them and to examine his own path. If this holds any truth, then what should we be thinking about today?

More to the point, on this President’s Day, who is your favorite president?