On this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln is elected to a second term.
Also on this day, in 1960, John F. Kennedy is elected president.
Of course, with the Civil War and the Cold War respectively, both presidents faced significant challenges. Sadly, both presidencies ended in assassination, and the list of supposed links between the two is legendary.
As we look back on revered presidents like Lincoln and Kennedy, we see that Americans tend to triumph in the the face of adversity. A ‘common thread’ runs through these triumphs, and we need look no further than their inaugural addresses to find it. We also find guidance for how to face our current challenges together.
From Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865:
“The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.”
[A]s was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
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… .”
From Kennedy’s inaugural address on January 20, 1961:
“And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.
We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.”
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”