Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today at the ceremony honoring the 200thAnniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol Rotunda. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Days after his re-election in the 1864 campaign, President Lincoln delivered an informal victory speech for a second term that would last little more than a month. With the Civil War nearly over, Lincoln looked forward to re-stitching the broken bonds of our strife-torn land. ‘Now that the election is over,’ he said, ‘may not all, having a common interest, reunite in a common effort to save our common country?’
“Just days before his death, President Lincoln joined the people of Washington, DC, to celebrate the fall of Richmond. Despite his love of the union and loathing of the confederacy, the President called upon the White House band to strike up the tune of Dixie.
“When a northerner questioned his motives, President Lincoln famously replied, ‘Am I not destroying my enemies by making friends of them?’
“The genius of Abraham Lincoln lies in the spirit behind those words. In the darkest hour of our republic, he showed us that a vigorous pursuit of common ground would always light our path back home.
“The weight of a trembling republic upon his narrow shoulders transformed President Lincoln prematurely from a young man to an old man. It took him from us before his time. But in his marble gaze across our National Mall, in the republic he saved and the lives he freed, his spirit burns on, fiercely and forever.”