150th Anniversary of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address
On Wednesday, March 4th there was a celebration for the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address held in Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol. The event was sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and the Illinois State Society of Washington, D.C.
It was a moving evening to be sitting in Statuary Hall which was where the House of Representatives met when Lincoln was a Congressman. There is a marker where his desk was.
I was invited by my good friend Harold Holzer who is a Lincoln Scholar and Chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He spoke of Lincoln the man and the statesman, as always when he speaks making Lincoln come alive for everyone in the audience. His latest book is Lincoln and the Press: The War for Public Opinion. Other speakers included Rodney Davis (R-IL) who represents Springfield, Il; Dr. Edna Greene Medford, Chair, Department of History, Howard University; and the Hon. Ray LaHood, former Secretary of Transportation; member of Congress and Co-Chair of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Before talking about Lincoln LaHood apologized to actor Stephen Lang who was there to recite Lincoln’s inaugural address, for not recognizing who he was. He told Lang that was likely the biggest mistake he has made since leaving congress. Some in the room may have thought the mistake referred to the person who now has his seat, Aaron Schrock, who is best known for decorating his Congressional office to look like a set from the TV show Downton Abbey.
Lang, a renowned and incredibly talented actor who has appeared often on TV and in many films including Avatar, did credit to the inaugural address. His voice rang out in that room as he spoke some of Lincoln’s most famous words which are the last paragraph of the address; “With Malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and all nations.”
It was an evening to remember and what made it extra moving was hearing those words ring out realizing just to the left of Lang as he spoke them was the statue of Rosa Parks.