We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.

TODAY – THANKSGIVING 2012 – Time to reflect on anniversaries.

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John Eyster
Thursday, November 22, 2012

TODAY – THANKSGIVING 2012 – Time to reflect on anniversaries.

I AWOKE TODAY with a profound sense of GRATITUDE knowing that today is THANKSGIVING DAY! I realize that I am truly blessed in many ways. My heart started to sing one of my favorite hymns, “Now thank we all our God.” IF you want to hear, use this link for the inspiration of hearing the Lincoln Minster School Choir sing this hymn with texts on the screen, “Now thank we all our God.”

If you are not aware of the story behind this hymn text by Martin Rinkart in about 1636, I urge you to read it to gain full appreciation of the context of this inspiring hymn of THANKSGIVING! I suggest Wikipedia’s article, “Now Thank We All Our God.”

I HOPE you too awoke with a profound sense of GRATITUDE! Did YOU? Comment?

Having just seen Spielberg’s “LINCOLN” earlier this week, I was ready to be reminded by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s editorial, “A respite from war,” that today is the 149th anniversary of the observance of the THANKSGIVING DAY which President Abraham Lincoln asked WE THE PEOPLE of the US to observe on the 4th Thursday of November 1863 when he issued a presidential proclamation on October 3, 1863.

The actual date – November 26, 1863 came exactly 1-week after President Lincoln delivered The Gettysburg Address.

Following the news this week, I read about Steven Spielberg’s visit to Gettysburg to celebrate the 149th anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette last Tuesday, November 20, 2012, “Steven Spielberg attends Gettysburg ceremonies.” You can use this link to read this very interesting report.

Tom Barnes reports from Spielberg’s address at Gettysburg last Monday, "I feel a huge debt of gratitude to President Lincoln.” Barnes points out that Spielberg produced the “Lincoln” movie about the bitter political fight to get the 13th Amendment to the Constitution passed was released last week. It is based in part on 'Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,' by Ms. Kearns Goodwin. Barnes continues, “After immersing himself for months in study of the president, especially his final months in office when he pushed for the amendment abolishing slavery, ‘I am a newly minted Lincoln obsessive,’ Mr. Spielberg said.

“Lincoln ‘has come to feel like one of my oldest and dearest friends. His ghost is still eloquent,’ he said. "’I wanted to bring Abe Lincoln back from his sleep of 11/2 centuries, if only for 21/2 hours,’ he said, referring to the length of the movie.”

As YOU observe the 149th anniversary of The Gettysburg Address this month and observe the 149th anniversary of the regular national observance of a DAY OF THANKSGIVING on the 4th Thursday of November each year, YOU would find it extra meaningful, I think, to read the original article about the Dedication of the Federal Cemetery at Gettysburg published by the New York Times on November 20, 1863, the day after Lincoln delivered The Gettysburg Address, “The Heroes of July.” This is a full description of what actually happened in Gettysburg, PA on November 19, 1863. Read it!

I think that in this context you will be MORE motivated to see Steven Spielberg’s highly acclaimed movie, “Lincoln.” I KNOW I want to see it again. I KNOW I am going to buy the DVD when it is released. This is a STELLAR example of the BENEFITS of modern cinematography with highest quality production of a movie! I expect the movie, “Lincoln” with its cast and writers and producers to receive numerous awards over the months ahead.

There are numerous significant reviews. I suggest you start by reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s review by Duane Dudek published November 15, “Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis find man behind 'Lincoln' myth.”

Critic’s Rating: 4 stars.

I like Dudek’s statement, “No rails are split in "Lincoln," but sausage is made in riveting detail as presidential myth is whittled down to man-sized father, husband and politician in Steven Spielberg's soaring portrait of the 16th president of the United States.

Having told us the focus of the movie being from Lincoln’s re-election of November 1864 through the assassination on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Dudek puts the spotlight on the gist of the movie, “It reveals how, driven by moral absolutism and exhausted by war with the Confederacy, a melancholy Lincoln used the power of the presidency and the patronage it allowed him, to hammer together a coalition in a lame-duck Congress and pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery.”

I value highly Dudek’s recognition of a VERY LIMITED parallel with TODAY (November 2012), “America is again at war today, and the president and a lame-duck Congress struggle with a variety of issues. But such tenuous similarities stop there. It is the contrasts between then and now that make ‘Lincoln’ striking.”

Dudek shares the ENTHUSIASM for Day-Lewis portrayal of Lincoln’s voice with most of the film’s critics, “Whether soaring oratorically or garrulous and plain-spoken, Day-Lewis captures a singularity of voice, delivered in a high-pitched, hickory-flavored drawl, whose pregnant pauses are as dramatic as words.”

You should also read Charles McGrath’s informative article, “Abe Lincoln as You’ve Never Heard Him: Daniel Day-Lewis on playing Abraham Lincoln” published by the New York Times on October 31, 2012. What a helpful report! I read it before seeing “Lincoln” and recommend it as significant reading to prepare to REALLY APPRECIASTE, “Lincoln.”

As Daniel Day-Lewis the MALE star of “Lincoln,” truly SALLY FIELD as Mary Lincoln is the FEMALE star of “Lincoln.” They are surrounded by an array of outstanding cast members who enrich the whole story of “Lincoln.”

The film is rated: PG-13 for war violence, racial epithets. I commented to my daughter that I thought I could take my 12-year-old grandson without any concern. I KNOW he has seen MORE war violence and heard racial epithets on REAL NEWS TV! In fact, the concern about “strong language” filter needs to be updated. I keep wondering whether the reviewers ever walk through the halls of an average middle school in the US. This is the 21st century!

The other movie review I would urge you to read is A.O. Scott’s “A President Engaged in a Great Civil War” published by the New York Times on November 8, 2012.

Finally, THANKSGIVING 2012 is being observed on the 49th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. IF you are old enough to remember November 22, 1963, YOU know exactly where you were when you heard the fateful news. Many of you saw Walter Cronkite emotionally report,

If you did not see that report or want to be reminded, use this link to see the YouTube report, “Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK.” If you go to see this segment, you will see numerous other segments related to November 22, 1963.

I was in WASHINGTON, DC on Friday, the 22nd of November 1963. That was the Friday before THANKSGIVING 1963 – Thursday, November 28, 1963. I was in the stacks of the Library of Wesley Theological Seminary at The American University when another student came through report, “President Kennedy has been shot.” I joined a group watching TV and saw Walter Cronkite’s announcement of the death of President Kennedy.

Where were YOU? How did YOU hear that President Kennedy was dead?

I am moving through this THANKSGIVING 2012 with sober reflections and profound gratitude. What are your reflections and thoughts and feelings?

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 10:32 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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