by Jason Goldtrap
If you could sit on a bench and speak with anyone in history, who would it be? For me, there is only one answer—Abraham Lincoln! Since we’re now just days from the celebration of his birth, let’s ponder.
Stay with me now. It’s a warm, sunny day. I am on a park bench. I gradually drift into a world between reality and …well …dreamland. I imagine Lincoln walking to the bench. He takes off his stovepipe hat and scratches his rough hewn head. He sits down.
Lincoln: “You wanted to see me, son?”
“Are you Abraham Lincoln?”
“No, I mean, I mean are you THE Abraham Lincoln?“
Lincoln: “In the flesh. How may I assist you?”
“To be sure now… you’re the Abraham Lincoln born February 12, 1809, in Hodgenville, Kentucky?”
Lincoln: “I am and I was. I had to drop out of school when I was just a sprout. I chopped wood and kept house. I vowed never to tell a lie.
I taught myself the necessities of thrift and manners for a civil life. I read, by fireside, great books of the world, like Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, the Rise And Fall Of The Roman Empire, Socrates, and others.
I applied this knowledge to the practical world and became a lawyer, a statesman, and a Congressman. I fashioned my-self to be a formidable orator and though I lost several elections, with a rigid, never give up stamina. I sought and won the highest office in the land and became America’s 16th President.
I married a stout and often cantankerous woman named Mary Todd who bore me four sons.
I wrote the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. Across five Aprils, I lead America in a Civil War. I expanded the western borders. I battled depression and insolvency even while I carried on my back the burden of people.
A man named John Wilkes Booth ended my life in1865, in a Washington theater. Since then, I have wandered hither and yon across unfathomable chambers of reality where time is of no consequence.
Even today, my spirit enlivens and enlightens all men who seek the fortunes of liberty. Yes, son, I am Abraham Lincoln.”
We would both sit in silence.
“If you could sit on a bench with anyone from history, who would be?”
Abraham pondered the inquiry. Rubbing his furrowed brow he replied, “Thomas Jefferson. Such a tryst would be most agreeable. I would desire his opinion on the Great American Experiment.”
I would nod my head right along with him.
“You know, I responded, I think I would like to see Thomas Jefferson as well. Do you know what I would ask him?”
He signaled with his right hand for me to continue speaking.
“I would ask….
“Are you really Thomas Jefferson?”
… and well—you know the rest.