A 4th grade reading assignment begat a heated argument with a girl with glasses who I knew was smarter than me but wrong on the issue [so much has changed] of the greatest president; And heated argument begat trip [50 yards] to the Citrus Grove elementary school’s oval library; And Citrus Grove library begat some biography which had a picture of Lincoln swinging an ax; And some biography begat an exact memorization of the Gettysburg Address; And exact memorization of the Gettysburg Address begat an abililty to give a largely accurate rendition [Abe might say it didn’t stay learnt]; And accurate rendition begat an ability to know someone was reciting the Gettysburg Address once I heard it.
And garage sales with books begat a pilgrimage to the Miami-Dade Public Library’s spectacular annual book sale [coming up now]; and annual pilgrimage begat William Safire’s Freedom; and Safire begat Garry Wills’ Lincoln at Gettysburg; And great buys at book sales begat a desire to never pay retail prices for books I was not reading cover to cover; And my cheapness begat the destruction of local book stores; And said destruction begat guilt; And guilt begat finding Mortimer Adler’s classic, How to Read a Book, which legitimized my reading habits; And Adler begat the death of the girl with glasses back in the 4th grade [only untrue begat]; And guilt assuaged begat Amazon; And Amazon begat Thomas Keneally’s, Abraham Lincoln; And Keneally begat Ronald C. White’s, The Eloquent President. And White begat [only ironic begat] Ken Burn’s The Civil War. And Burns begat Netflix streaming. And Netflix streaming begat a most unexpected, but effective, motivational device; comparing my problems to those faced by my ancestral citizenry.
More recently, the movie Lincoln begat Doris Kearns Goodwin’s audiobook Team of Rivals; And Goodwin begat David Herbert Donald’s Lincoln; And Donald begat a 99 cent ebook, The Complete 7-Volume Papers and Writings of Abraham Lincoln; And that 99 cent ebook begat another 99 cent ebook, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant.
Lincoln’s farewell address at Springfield, 2/11/1861:
My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place and the kindness of this people I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born and one is buried.
I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him I can not succeed. With that assistance I can not fail.
Trusting in Him who can go with me and remain with you and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.