During his five years in office, Lincoln bore the burden of personal tragedy and civil war with an unwavering commitment to preserving the union. Lincoln secured emancipation of an oppressed race and inaugurated “a new birth of freedom” before falling to an assassin just months after his reelection.
Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, inscribed on the walls of the Lincoln Memorial, turned the nation’s priorities from the prosecution of the war toward reconciliation.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
As Koreans contemplate the challenges of unification and the severe privations endured by their countrymen that cry out for justice, Lincoln’s magnanimity and generosity must inform their motives. Guided by Lincoln’s noble example, unification can usher in an era of Reconstruction in the North, and a new birth of freedom and co-prosperity for all Koreans.