Over the Hill

Why Abraham Lincoln, the anti-Trump, deserves his own holiday

President Abraham Lincoln is shown in a formal portrait, holding the 13th Amendment of the Constitution.
President Abraham Lincoln is shown in a formal portrait, holding the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. The Associated Press

If John Wilkes Booth, the assassin who killed President Abraham Lincoln, were alive today, he’d probably vote for Donald Trump. That occurred to me as I was again fretting over the lack of a national Lincoln holiday.

After all, President Lincoln led our nation to victory in the Civil War, and thus preserved the United States of America. He also freed the slaves. But we have no national holiday honoring him.

And don’t tell me he’s included in the Presidents Day holiday, because he isn’t. “Presidents Day” isn’t the real name of that holiday. It’s a nickname. That holiday’s actual, official, congressionally authorized name is Washington’s Birthday.

But I’m not suggesting that George Washington should get any lesser honor. He led the American Army during our Revolutionary War. He was our first president. His leadership and integrity were essential for our nation’s early survival. I just think Lincoln deserves some honor.

People have tried in the past to create an official federal Abraham Lincoln holiday but couldn’t get it through Congress. Congress also wasn’t interested in a joint Washington-Lincoln holiday.

A likely reason for that congressional reluctance was reported in The Christian Science Monitor on Feb. 12, 2012. The Monitor said a Lincoln holiday would remind us of the Civil War and, “would have been controversial to many in the South.”

But these days most people call the February federal holiday “Presidents Day” even though that’s just its alias. To me, that name is meaningless. Should we really lump Lincoln and Washington in with President William Henry Harrison, who held the office for only one month in 1841 before dying?

Or should Lincoln and Washington share a holiday with Warren G. Harding? He served only 2½ years before dying and is remembered for the cronyism and corruption of his presidency. Nor should they share a holiday with Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace after his Watergate scandal.

We are now in the midst of a highly publicized presidential campaign. The election will be in November. And there is one candidate who seems to get the most publicity: Donald Trump.

He says things such as: “Donald Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Let’s compare that with what Lincoln said in his second inaugural address, just 37 days before the Civil War was to end. He said, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in.”

President Lincoln was thoughtful, just and effective. Where do we find someone like him today?

Phil Dirkx’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Paso Robles for more than five decades, and his column appears here every week. Reach Dirkx at 238-2372 or phild2008@sbcglobal.net.