September 11, 2016
The 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was an important moment for our nation. But Abraham Lincoln said everything said on September 11, 2016 more poignantly in 1838.
In his famous “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions” speech in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln brilliantly captured the challenge of remembering and reapplying our founding principles in the face of crisis. In Lincoln’s time, of course, the looming crisis was slavery. His immediate concerns, as reflected in his remarks, were preventing the nation from committing suicide from within, which he viewed as a more serious threat than a foreign invasion, and the potential of a Napoleonic-style ruler who would seek to make tyranny great again. Prescient stuff.
But Lincoln was also preoccupied with continuing the American idea beyond the lifespan and immediate first-hand memories of Revolutionary War veterans. His words then speak directly to the challenge of remembering 9/11 now:
I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted… Even then, they cannot be so universally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just gone to rest.
Read the full article at Opportunity Lives: On 9/11 – What Abraham Lincoln Taught Us About Remembering