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(2009-04-07 10:54:39)


President Obama’s Remarks at Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration
Obama marks occasion of America’s 16th president’s birth


     It is an honor to be here – a place where Lincoln served, wasinaugurated, and where the nation he saved bid him a last farewell. Aswe mark the bicentennial of our 16th President’s birth, I cannot claimto know as much about his life and works as many of those who are alsospeaking today, but I can say that I feel a special gratitude to thissingular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible – andwho in so many ways made America’s story possible.
     It isfitting that we are holding this celebration here at the Capitol. Forthe life of this building is bound ever so closely to the times of thisimmortal President. Built by artisans and craftsmen, immigrants andslaves – it was here, in the rotunda, that union soldiers received helpfrom a makeshift hospital; it was downstairs, in the basement, thatthey were baked bread to give them strength; and it was in the Senateand House chambers, where they slept at night, and spent some of theirdays.
     What those soldiers saw when they looked on thisbuilding was a very different sight than the one we see today. For itremained unfinished until the end of the war. The laborers who builtthe dome came to work wondering whether each day would be their last;whether the metal they were using for its frame would be requisitionedfor the war and melted down into bullets. But each day went by withoutany orders to halt construction, and so they kept on working and kepton building.
When President Lincoln was finally told of allthe metal being used here, his response was short and clear: that is asit should be. The American people needed to be reminded, he believed,that even in a time of war, the work would go on; that even when thenation itself was in doubt, its future was being secured; and that onthat distant day, when the guns fell silent, a national capitol wouldstand, with a statue of freedom at its peak, as a symbol of unity in aland still mending its divisions.
     It is this sense of unity,this ability to plan for a shared future even at a moment our nationwas torn apart, that I reflect on today. And while there are any numberof moments that reveal that particular side of this extraordinary man –that particular aspect of his leadership – there is one I’d like toshare with you today.
      In the war’s final weeks, aboard Grant’sflagship, The River Queen, President Lincoln was asked what was to bedone with the rebel armies once General Lee surrendered. With victoryat hand, Lincoln could have sought revenge. He could have forced theSouth to pay a steep price for their rebellion. But despite all thebloodshed and all the misery that each side had exacted upon the other,no Confederate soldier was to be punished, Lincoln ordered. They wereto be treated, as he put it, “liberally all round.” All Lincoln wantedwas for Confederate troops to go back home and return to work on theirfarms and in their shops. He was even willing, he said, to “let themhave their horses to plow with and…their guns to shoot crows with.”
      Thatwas the only way, Lincoln knew, to repair the rifts that had torn thiscountry apart. It was the only way to begin the healing that our nationso desperately needed. For what Lincoln never forgot, not even in themidst of civil war, was that despite all that divided us – north andsouth, black and white – we were, at heart, one nation and one people,sharing a bond as Americans that could not break.
      And so evenas we meet here today, at a moment when we are far less divided than inLincoln’s day, but when we are once again debating the critical issuesof our time – and debating them fiercely – let us remember that we aredoing so as servants to the same flag, as representatives of the samepeople, and as stakeholders in a common future. That is the mostfitting tribute we can pay – and the most lasting monument we can build– to that most remarkable of men, Abraham Lincoln. Thank you.

我荣幸地站在这里──这是林肯为国效劳的地方,是他宣誓就职的地方,也是他所拯救的国家向他作最后告别的地方。在我们纪念我国第16任总统诞辰 200周年之际,我不能说我对他的生平和业绩的了解像今天多位演讲者那样深入,但我能说我对这位伟人怀有特殊的感激之情,我个人的历程,以及整个美国的历程,在很多方面要归功于他。





在南北战争结束前的几个星期,林肯总统在格兰特将军的"女王河"号(River Queen)旗舰上被问到,在李将军(General Lee)投降后将如何处置他的南方军。当时胜利近在咫尺,林肯完全可以报仇雪恨。他可以迫使南方军为反叛付出沉重代价。但林肯却下令,尽管双方都给对方造成了惨重伤亡和巨大痛苦,南方军士兵一律免受惩处。他们将被给与——用他的话说——"完全自由的"待遇。林肯只希望南方军士兵返回家乡,恢复农耕,重操旧业。他还说,他甚至愿意"让他们保留自己的马以便拉犁……他们自己的枪以便打鸟"。

林肯知道,这是让导致国家分裂的伤痕得以弥和的惟一途径,也是让国家迫切需要的愈合得以开始的惟一途径。因为林肯从未忘记,即使在南北战争期间也从未忘记,虽然我们有种种差异──北方与南方,黑人与白人 ──但在内心深处,我们同属一个国家,同是一国子民,我们作为美国人的共同纽带无法割断。



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