Calls opportunity “a great privilege.”
Senator Elder Vogel Jr. delivered the annual Lincoln Day Address on the floor of the Senate today. A Senate tradition, the speech is given by a newly-elected freshman member who is appointed by the President Pro Tempore to honor President Abraham Lincoln.
The following is a transcript of Senator Vogel’s remarks:
Mr. President, I rise today to celebrate the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. It is my great privilege to continue the Senate’s fine tradition of honoring America’s sixteenth president on the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.
Mr. President, today we find ourselves in difficult economic times. Pennsylvania families are facing many tough challenges. And in the weeks and months ahead, many difficult decisions will be made here in the halls of this General Assembly.
So perhaps it is fitting we honor today, a man who lived in challenging times himself.
The impending collapse of the union during Lincoln’s time must have felt overwhelming. It must have seemed like everything was falling apart. What would happen to the nation? What would happen to us as a people?
Lincoln himself once said, “We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.” Perhaps this may sound familiar to many of you.
Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln led our nation through tumultuous times with character, integrity and perseverance.
And in this difficult budget year, let us as legislators demand upon ourselves the same character, the same integrity, and the same perseverance we find in Abraham Lincoln’s example.
Lincoln’s law partner, William H. Herndon, once said the following about Lincoln’s perseverance: “Mr. Lincoln was a peculiar man; he was intensely thoughtful, persistent, fearless, and tireless in thinking. When he got after a thought, fact, principle, question, he ran it down to the fibers of the tap root, dug it out, and held it up before him for an analysis, and when he thus formed an opinion, no man could overthrow it; he was in this particular without an equal.”
Perseverance is perhaps something we should all remember in these times of economic recession and budgetary strain. No matter your political stripes, we are all Americans, we are all Pennsylvanians. And we will persevere.
Allow me, if you will, to leave you with the following passage from a thoughtful speech Lincoln gave in 1856 to Illinois Republicans. With the nation beginning to fracture on the issue of slavery, Lincoln said the following:
“The Union is undergoing a fearful strain; but it is a stout old ship, and has weathered many a hard blow…..We ourselves must not decline the burden of responsibility, nor take counsel of unworthy passions. Whatever duty urges us to do or to omit must be done or omitted; and the recklessness with which our adversaries break the laws, or counsel their violation, should afford no example for us. Therefore, let us revere the Declaration of Independence; let us continue to obey the Constitution and the laws; and let us keep step to the music of the Union.”
As we honor Abraham Lincoln today, may we be reminded of his example.
Thank you, Mr. President.