Delores E. Topliff
Fiction often draws from historical peoples’ lives for character development. Except some life patterns are so amazing, they’re not believable. I remember talking with a Zondervan editor sharing a poignant true event of my mother’s life I’d included in a book I was writing when she responded, “Not plausible, that couldn’t happen." Except it had.
Nine days from now we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Abe knew people worked hard to earn money and as a young Illinois store clerk, walked three miles to return six pennies he’d accidentally overcharged a customer. Therefore, since his 100th birthday in 1909, his picture has appeared on the U.S. penny, our smallest coin, to honor his role model honesty. In fact, that kind of integrity became part of the body of stories growing up him that were the best P.R. possible and eventually put him in presidential office, besides securing a place in our hearts.
Next consider Diogenes, the Cynic, who lived in ancient Greece. By choice he lived in a barrel walking around carrying a lantern searching for an honest person since he was convinced no truthful honest man or woman existed. Too eccentric for a hero or anti-hero? Probably, but unforgettable all the same.
Lincoln once said, “You can tell the greatness of a man by what makes him angry.” In other words, not much should be able to do that. He may be paraphrasing Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
For my money, I’ll take Honest Abe, saluting his character every time I jingle his pennies in my pocket.
Old-timers say, “Beauty is as beauty does.” Homely? Ungainly? Kind! His conduct was beautiful.
Therefore, in my books, Lincoln was the most handsome president we’ve had. I slip a Lincoln penny into the cake I bake on his birthday to serve grandkids while talking about his life and honesty.
Tell us how you celebrate him or another favorite person of your choice.