Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We Need A Man (or woman) Like This:

Imagine a young man meeting a young girl, falling in love and proposing marriage. The young woman accepted and they were engaged to be married.

Then, as they became better acquainted, it was immediately apparent that their personalities were so opposite, a compatible life together would be nearly impossible.

The young man broke off the engagement. But, he had given his word, and the thought that he was going back on his promise troubled him greatly. So greatly, in fact, that he was unable to do his work - a work about which he was extremely passionate. Finally, he came to realize he could not live his life knowing that he had broken his word. He reconciled with the young woman and they were married. As the years passed, the marriage was as troubled as he suspected it would be, but he endured that marriage as the preferred alternative to breaking his promise.

That is a true story, recently related by Lewis C. Lehrman, author and historian. The young man's name was Abraham Lincoln, the young woman was Mary Todd.

The concept of treasuring one's "word" was not uncommon in Lincoln's day. During his presidency, on May 10, 1862, my grandfather was born. At age 31, his son, my father, was born on April 17, 1893. My father often said, "If a man doesn't have his word, what does he have?" It is just the way it was in the 19th century, and for a few decades beyond. If a man looked you in the eye, shook your hand and made a promise, you could put it in the bank. Literally! Many significant business transactions were sealed in just that way, with a handshake. Either party would rather die than break their word.

Is there such a man or woman today who would lead our nation? We can hope.

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