Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on an article about Abraham Lincoln and his cent. -Editor As expected, the February 2009 issue of Reader's Digest, which arrived this week, contained an article on Abraham Lincoln. Despite the fact the article was buried in the back of the magazine, it carried a sidebar on the Lincoln Cent. Both are celebrating anniversaries this year, Abe at 200, Brenner's Cent at a 100.
The article's subtitle further recognized the Lincoln Cent -- "What Honest Abe means today, 100 years after the creation of the Lincoln penny." Before I read the article I was expecting the usual PC crap which permeates the press today.
But author Andrew Ferguson fooled me. He is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard and the author of " Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe's America." He is also a self-styled Lincolnophile, a genuine lover of Lincoln. Hooray!
He relates how mild will be this year's celebrations in contrast to 1909's Lincoln centennial. Not only did that centennial spawn a new cent design -- the first to show a real person on a U.S. coin for circulation -- it also set in motion two movements, one for the Lincoln Monument (completed in 1922) ,the other for the Lincoln Highway, "the first transcontinental thoroughfare," he states. Numismatists know the vast panorama of 1909 Lincolniana, chronicled by Robert King's 1924 medal and token catalog and slated for revision this year by a panel of Token and Medal Society collectors.
That 1909 event expressed "an unembarrassed appreciation for heroes and an acute sense of the way that even long-dead historical figures press in on the present and make us who we are." Gosh, I wish I had written that.
Ferguson also relates the movement against Lincoln's legacy. A symposium of scholars and educators met recently to reassess Lincoln. To no one's surprise it was negative, labeling him a racist totalitarian and teller of dirty jokes. We are facing an "enemy within" lodged mostly in American academia which strives to rewrite history and revalue American heroes, adding to the accumulating political correctness.
I found a dramatic case of that when I examined my grandson's grade school history book. It had one paragraph on Lincoln and three pages on Civil rights and Martin Luther King Jr. Obvious results of political correctness. How twisted. How misguided. How untrue. Lincoln did more than ... you fill in the rest.
The RD's Lincoln Cent sidebar had a 5-question quiz, and led to other Lincoln Cent questions on the magazine's internet at www.readersdigest.com/pennyquiz. The illustration accompanying the article showed a pair Lincoln cents beside a red-nose Abe Lincoln with circus characters carrying in a 200-year birthday cake. Prophetically, the Lincoln Cents were delicately balanced on a tight rope!
Wayne Homren, Editor
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