” Whatever You are, Be a Good One” -Lincoln

Dear Reader:

I knew I couldn’t let Presidents Day come and go this year without paying tribute to our greatest President-Abraham Lincoln.

Last night I tearfully ( assassination scene) finished watching the History Channel’s three night documentary simply titled: Abraham Lincoln-based on the award-winning author, Doris Kearny Goodwin ‘s bestseller Leadership in the Turbulent Times.

It stars actor, Graham Sibley, as Lincoln and what an amazing ” Lincoln he is!” The mini-series is filled with surprises and new insights. But then isn’t that true of great men… they never give up, in spite of failures and losses because they know they are following a destiny. They won’t be deterred and centuries after they are gone, we are still learning from them.

I knew Lincoln wrote amazing speeches but his delivery became a calling card for the public who wanted to hear his homespun humor jokes, his quick-witted retorts, his stories, and his growing reputation for saying more in less time than any other politician or noted speakers of his day.

As I watched one of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, re-enacted splendidly, it was obvious that Lincoln instinctively understood when to play which ” card” of his speech or notes. Before movies, pro-sports, television, etc. – political debates and public speeches drew large crowds who wanted to be entertained. This style of speaking…Lincoln practiced until he became one of the most popular speech writers and deliverers… like storytellers and comedians knew… timing is everything in an one-liner. Examples:

” Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

” He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”

” When I do good… I feel good -When I do bad I feel bad… that’s my religion.”

Today writers are famous for keeping a pad and pen in tow, especially in the car, because don’t we get our best ideas driving? Lincoln kept pen and paper in his coat pockets. While walking the streets, if he got an idea for a speech, he wrote it down and put it in his 🎩 top hat ( the perfect place unless he ran into too many women and politely tipped his hat too sharply. )

Though not formally ” schooled” Lincoln’s greatest discovery became books. His speaking ability stemmed from his lifelong love of reading-he was never far from a book throughout his life and he was a lifetime learner.

Upon entering the White House, secession started from the slave states and Lincoln realized it would be his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief that would make or break his Presidency.

He had little military experience so he turned to books to give himself a ” crash” course ” in military strategy and by the end of the war Lincoln truly was the commander-in-chief.

Lincoln just didn’t believe in short speeches he realized that the first words in a speech should be sparse and simple… and the same with the ending. Therein lay the memorable words.

” Fourscore and seven years ago ” concluding with ” Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

So until tomorrow… Remember to keep it simple… because in simplicity lies greatness.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Azaleas and Camellias residing side by side
How pretty nature dresses her daffodils
Good to see you returning Miss Rosemary-you always smell so good!

For my last ” Lincoln” quote… it must be applied to a wonderful lunch date with none other than my ” sister” Brooke at Oscars yesterday. It was a last-minute happy coincidence when Brooke had to come to the Home Depot for new carpet. We had just enough time to eat and laugh and talk before Brooke had to get home to meet the painters-but it made my day!!!

Lincoln said it best: ” The better part of one’s life consists of his ( her) friendships!” So true Abe… so true and so honest!

Winnie got her hair cut and now feels like a new ” woman”

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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