Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Day Lightning Struck Twice

“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”

In case anyone is interested, today is April 14th. Today marks the day that Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., and the day the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg off Newfoundland.

But neither story ended that day. Although Lincoln was shot on April 14th, he actually died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning at William Petersen’s Boarding House, across the street from the theater. The RMS Titanic sank below the waves at 2:20 a.m., April 15th.

On April 14, 1792, France declared war on Austria, starting the French Revolutionary War and then on the same date in 1814, Napoleon abdicated and went into exile on the island of Elba. Later on, Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” would be published on this same date in 1859.

On April 14, 1860, the first Pony Express rider arrived in San Francisco from St. Joseph, Mo. 121 years to the day later, on April 14, 1981, the first Space Shuttle, Columbia, returned to Earth.

Ironies seem to abound on this date. History will record that on this date, the President of the United States declared that greatness and rugged individualism did not come into existence until 1865. Although a great but humble president, far superior to the current, Harvard-educated resident of the White House, was assassinated on this date, and a great ship’s builders were humbled when many people, noble and humble alike, perished when the Titanic sank from under them on its maiden voyage, this current president has no recollection of history prior to 1965.

Where is the literary hero of our age to declare, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."?

Where are the courageous noblemen, though they were the “evil rich” of their times, who had too much honor to take a seat in a lifeboat ahead of the women and children, even when it was clear that the lifeboats had to be launched half-empty if the crew was to get the rest of the boats off, and they could have jumped into one of the boats with a clear conscience?  Where are the courageous immigrants who believed in the American dream and were willing to take that leap of faith and work hard to make that dream come true, not wait in line for it?

Where is the daring pioneer to state, “This is one small step for a man; one giant leap for Mankind.”

Where is the U.S. President to declare, “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.”

Future greatness is buried right now under a great pile of mediocrity, waiting for the sunshine of freedom to melt the cold burden of tyranny so it can spring forth.

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