By Jack and Helen Ofield, https://www.
February 18, 2019 (Lemon Grove) -- On President's Day we honor the father of our country, George Washington (born Feb. 22, 1732). Knowledge of his life and achievements is, alas, fading, yet he is the one who ensured the birth of our nation and the adoption of its Constitution--the document that prompts millions to move to the USA whether they understand it or not.
The same fading understanding could be applied to Abraham Lincoln (born Feb. 12, 1809). He, too, is honored on President's Day. Washington lived in the age of heroic depictions of leaders in paint and marble. Lincoln lived in the new age of photography that showed real, unidealized people.
Cameras and photographers have given us some 130 portraits of Lincoln. Jack Ofield painted a stylized camera and chose this image, taken by Alexander Gardner in Washington, D. C. on Feb. 5, 1865, just two months and nine days before the president's assassination. Lincoln's ravaged face shows the toll taken by the Civil War. Worn, exhausted, shirt and tie askew, hair rumpled, yet he manages a rueful, ironic, faint smile. His is the face of grief.
Out of the Age of Lincoln came the Party of Lincoln, born in measure from the Abolitionist Movement -- the antithesis of Jim Crow. Let us remember on Presidents' Day the two men who fought for us, one to forge the nation and the other to save it.