“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”… The concept of polar opposites has always been fascinating to me and as I perused issues we have dated March 8 across the decades, the following two contrasting events caught my eye:
On March 8, 1865, Abraham Lincoln gave his 2nd Inaugural address . The country had spent the last several years in despair as brother killed brother, parents grieved and wives desperately tried to determine how they would survive without their husbands. The Civil War was the darkest period in our young countries history, arguably, even to this day. President Lincoln bore this heavy mantle with grace and dignity when it may have killed a man of lesser conviction.
Simultaneously, Walt Whitman was taking the epic that was the American Story and transforming even it’s dark and ugly pieces into a more palatable and poetic form.
On March 8, 1888 the New York Herald printed another of Whitman’s works titled, My Canary Bird . Publishing his works in the newspaper put Whitman’s perspective of America in the hands of the common man which is exactly where he would have wanted it. Beauty from Ashes, the American Story had a devotee in Walt Whitman. He had a way of making “The worst of times” into “The best of times”.