Abraham Lincoln, our first Republican president, had close ties to Decatur, Ill., where I was raised. I lived across the street from Fairview Park, where he practiced law downstairs and slept upstairs in a very simple cabin. Getting to go inside the cabin was one of our first history lessons in elementary school.
I also remember visiting the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as a teen and experiencing the awe of being in that majestic monument, which so well reflected the burden of his presidency. It was silent, like a cathedral, with visitors honoring all that Honest Abe stood for and the tragic ending to his life. There were no cellphones then as we gathered respectfully, which unfortunately does not happen now.
Later, after the John F. Kennedy assassination, I vividly remember the Bill Mauldin editorial cartoon showing that same statue of Lincoln with his head down, weeping. What a powerful reminder of a country's anguish, which won Mauldin a Pulitzer Prize.
The last few years have been painful ones for Republicans, which have continued with disappointing results in the 2022 midterms. Yet, as I'm reading about the GOP plans for the newly regained House of Representatives, I'm struck by the plans dedicated to revenge, instead of healing. Isn't the whole idea supposed to be to show that your party can govern better than the one previously in power? Evidently that's not particularly as high a priority now as it should be.
Lincoln was president when our country was more divided than at any time in its history. Perhaps Republicans — and indeed all of us — would do well to look back to the first GOP president and the values he represented. Mauldin's cartoon would still be as relevant today as it was when published in the 1960s.
We owe it to ourselves as a nation to do better.
Rhoda T. London, retired teacher, Jacksonville
No fan of Trump or Biden
I have always considered myself a conservative on policy and use of taxpayers’ money. The election cycle of 1970 was my first vote. I have only voted for one Democrat in my life and that was Sheriff J. Haywood Allen Sr. in Cleveland County, N.C., who served for 40-plus years.
I also had the great honor of serving as a deputy sheriff alongside his son. After the untimely passing of Sheriff Allen in the early 1980s, I immediately went to the Board of Elections office and switched my party affiliation to Republican, where it has remained for 40 years. I won't bore you with my thoughts toward Democrats, Socialists, Progressives and other liberals, as they will never get my vote.
Another man who will never get my vote is Donald John Trump. It is my belief this man is nothing that he claims to be and should never serve in public office again. Many words come to mind when I think about Trump: crook, liar, bully, manipulator of many and abuser of our nation’s financial laws. We need a strong leader and team to right the wrongs forced upon this nation by the Biden administration.
It is time we implemented term limits. No more than 12 years (two terms) for a senator and eight years (four terms) as a member of the House of Representatives. Both must also sit out four years before switching from one chamber to the other.
After seeing Trump in action for one term and his antics since he lost in 2020, we need a strong leader that stays off social media and has extensive skills in keeping his mouth shut. Until we find that leader, rest assured D.J.T. will never get another vote from this Southern country boy.
Eddie Brown, Jacksonville
Season of gratitude
The words “gratitude” and “grace” come from the same Latin root, gratias.
One of the meanings of grace is unmerited gift. And the amazing grace of it is that it is always free, like the gift of sunrises and sunsets; of rivers and oceans and the power to save them (if it is not too late); the gift of trees and plants; big animals and tiny crawling ones; babies who poop and cry and laugh and give us hope; and families and friends.
Likewise, we have the gifts of memory, of the loved ones who have preceded us, those who raised us and unknowingly modeled for us what we wanted to grow to become.
And we hold in gratitude those who show kindness in countless little ways: the clerk who has a hundred other problems to worry about, but who manages a smile, anyway; the person who listens to our stories as though she is hearing them for the first time; the teacher who notices the quiet child and asks his opinion; the husband who pitches in with the dishes or the kids’ homework because he knows his wife has worked all day, too.
We are grateful because we know that one day we will wake up and say our prayers and drink our morning coffee, and that that day may be our last day on this earth. Then someone else will pay the bills and give our clothes to Goodwill and tell our stories and maybe cry a little, remembering.
But today we are grateful because we have another chance to make things right, to say something kind, make that phone call, to write our senator, all without a thought of recompense, but just because we can. And we are so very grateful.
Elizabeth Fiorite, Westside Jacksonville
One person’s flop, another’s victory
In the aftermath of the midterm elections, many have described the outcome as a Republican “flop” or “debacle,” characterizing the GOP’s efforts as some sort of failure. This is an absurd attempt to bandwagon the notion that somehow the progressive policies of the Biden administration are vindicated, widely embraced and applauded by most of the electorate.
The outcome of the midterms is disappointing for the GOP because they believed obviously flawed polls and expectations calling for a “red wave” that never materialized. Notwithstanding, the outcome of the election is clearly a victory for the GOP, as well as a repudiation of President Joe Biden’s progressive policies and supporters in Congress.
The House of Representatives will revert to Republican control with a slim majority, but one equal to or greater than the most recent Democrat majority, which was 220 to 212. The Senate will remain controlled by Democrats, but with either an equal number of Republicans and Democrats or (at worst) only one additional Democrat and one less Republican, depending on the results of the Georgia runoff.
Given that more Republican Senate seats were at risk than Democrat seats, this is a decent showing for the GOP in these contentious races. By wresting control of the House from the Democrats and maintaining the status quo in the Senate, the GOP has succeeded in placing themselves in position to put the brakes on the runaway juggernaut of progressive policies that Biden has foisted on us. I call that a victory.
Joseph A. Thomasino, MD, MS, FACPM (retired), Ponte Vedra Beach
Get moving for Parkinson’s
One million people in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s, and 60,000 people are newly diagnosed annually. The Parkinson’s Foundation is the nation’s leading community for people living with the disease, those who love them and those working to end PD.
Our mission focuses on improving care, advancing research and providing necessary education on Parkinson’s. Recently we hosted Moving Day Jacksonville, where participants walked together with a common goal — to fight PD and celebrate movement — and raised over $25,000 to support the local community.
But the mission does not stop there. The Parkinson’s Foundation Florida Chapter and I invite everyone in Jacksonville to join us as we amplify PD awareness once again during Parkinson’s Revolution Jacksonville on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. The cycling experience is a high-energy opportunity to raise funds, will feature a 45-minute and a 90-minute ride, and will offer opportunities to learn more about PD. The event supports the Jacksonville PD community by providing additional resources that can help improve their quality of life.
Together we can help make life better for people with PD. To learn more, visit PDRevolutionFL.org or call the foundation’s helpline at (800) 4PD-INFO (473-4636).
Karen Lopez, senior development manager, Parkinson’s Foundation – Florida chapter
DeSantis’ damage has been done
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called the “Stop 'WOKE’ Act” dystopian. I call it a re-election ploy that would never pass constitutional scrutiny. Gov. Ron DeSantis showed his true Machiavellian colors when he groveled to the racists and white nationalists that make up much of his Florida base. His authoritarian antics should make him feared — not loved.
Next on the court’s list of wrongs that should be righted is the gerrymandered map of congressional districts that the governor (with no constitutional authority) forced the state legislature to pass, even though they neither approved it nor participated in the process. It’s too late, though, as DeSantis accomplished his mission of eliminating Black and Democrat members of Congress from Florida.
His map will eventually be struck down, but the damage has already been done to our democracy.
Jim Kavanagh, Jacksonville
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Letters: Lincoln a perfect example of leadership in divisive times