On his way from Springfield to Washington, for the inauguration, many men stepped up to the platform to stand back-to-back with Lincoln, and measure their height against his. Most of them were shorter. In Pittsburgh a husky coal-heaver proved to be exactly as tall as Lincoln. Carl Sandburg tells about this in his monumental work: Abraham Lincoln, the War Years.
As tall as Lincoln! Here is a man who was as tall in character as he was physically. He stands out, head-and-shoulders above the crowd, a measuring standard for manhood.
He was tall in humility. When one of his generals insulted him and kept him waiting for several hours, he said: “I would hold his horse, if he would only give us victories.”
He was tall in tolerance. It was Lincoln who uttered those immortal words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all.”
He was tall in justice. He pardoned many soldiers. “A boy,” he said, “should not be blamed if his legs are cowardly.”
He was tall in humor. Lincoln was big enough to laugh at himself. When it was reported that one of his cabinet members had called him a fool, Lincoln retorted: “He must be right – he is a very smart man.”
He was tall in faith. In dark days of war he said: “Let us have faith that rights makes might, and, in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
On the wall of history Lincoln has left us a mark to measure up to. He was one of God’s tallest heroes.
Wilferd A. Peterson
Source: Herbert V. Prochnow, The New Speaker’s Treasury of Wit and Wisdom, New York: Harper & Row, 1958, hal. 260.
JAKARTA, 21 JANUARY 2014