Today is Thanksgiving Day and, in addition to urging you to take the time to be truly thankful for whatever good fortune you have, I ask you to remember those who were hit hard by Superstorm Sandy last month.
Thanksgiving was first proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln who, on Oct. 3, 1863, in the depths of the Civil War, declared a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be observed on Thursday, Nov. 26. Lincoln’s successor, President Andrew Johnson, designated Dec. 7, 1865, as Thanksgiving and gave all government workers the day off, officially making it a legal holiday.
Each subsequent president continued to issue annual proclamations choosing the date for T-Day (usually the last Thursday of November, but sometimes the next-to-last). Then, on Dec. 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill officially fixing the date of Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday of November each year.
The only verified photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg. He is in the center of the frame, without a hat, to the left of the bearded man in the tall hat.
Today, back in 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Penn. The speech was delivered almost five months after the Union defeated the Confederates on that bloody battlefield.
In the aftermath of the bitterest, most contentious and venomous presidential election in the history of our nation, I think it’s worth taking the time to reread it:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Of course you’ve heard of that holiday-season prestige project that’s expected to snap up a bunch of Oscar nominations (and wins) when it is released in November — a little picture called Lincoln, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and directed by a guy named Steven Spielberg. Awards bait, for sure.
I mean, just look at this initial teaser poster: It’s packed with so much… gravitas… that I imagine it would be difficult to hang on a wall because it’s so heavy and serious. This is clearly “a film by,” and not some popcorn romp. There’s nary a mention of his other career as a slayer of vampires!
Look at DD-L, all grim, as if the weight of preserving the Union is on his shoulders. He’s alone — that stark white background tells us he’s on his own — and it’s in black-and-white, which means it’s Serious. Plus, he’s pretty much struck the same profile pose as on the penney, so you know it’s him.
Coud you imagine if the Lincoln teaser had been handed over to one of the hack publicity firms? We surely would have gotten the image of Lincoln’s disembodied head (colored blue, of course) floating over a generic Civil War battle scene, with maybe Mary Todd Lincoln’s head and a male supporting character’s floating below and behind Lincoln while a jagged bolt of orange light slices down the poster vertically. The log line would be something insipid but deep-sounding: “The war that tore his country apart almost tore the president apart.”
I don’t know… maybe you can think of something better?