Who were those people disturbing a body's summer morning peace? Why were they on the marble steps of my front porch, deluging me from every direction? My friends, in all my years on this chair in this temple of democracy, this rambling talk of 'restoring honor,' leaves me of all people--speechless!
It felt like a heap of Confederate sons and daughters coming to take revenge on me for winning the war. But their leader was a counterfeit fellow, nothing next to General Robert E. Lee or even the little giant, Stephen Douglas. As a captive audience, I had to receive this throng with the same wise expression on my face. But truly I was dying inside.
First my friends--the absence of ceremonial courtesies, words of good will, to the president was insolent at best. As I am the master of politics, the original man of the people, so I know a hostile house. However, my foe Senator Douglas held my hat when I was sworn in as president of the United States. Today the undercurrent of displeasure toward the president gave me a shiver.
And I ask, are these people unfamiliar with the sacred separation of Church and State? We are not a Christian nation; please tell those people that Thomas Jefferson also recoiled with horror over at *his* memorial at the blaring religious references. To be honest, God should only be mentioned sparingly in speeches, like the address I gave on a great battlefield. Don't bring God into my temple--this is not a house of worship.
This glib fellow appropriated everything he could take with his hands and then some. The Washington Monument, for example--is made of a different stone after the Civil War years. Everybody schooled with an elementary knowledge of the nation's capital knows that. My poor Virginian friend Washington was subjected to a rant suggesting that "nobody" knew this fact--which was cast as divine revelation. Somehow the counterfeit compared this event to Woodstock, which I am reliably told was carnival of the first order.
Give me Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Barack Obama any day--let them sing American ballads like "This is Your Land." That's the kind of company I enjoy. The Marine Band may play to its heart's content, I might add.
The most splendid things have happened here on my watch. This is the outdoor theater of American democracy. The voice of Marian Anderson, the contralto who could make slain dreams wake, shattered the glass house the Daughters of the American Revolution had built, trying to keep her from performing in 1939 (because of her race.) Mrs. Roosevelt put paid to that prejudice.
No words can capture the glory of the “I Have a Dream” speech uttered here in 1963, on an August day like this, a triumphal vision of peace by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (He was a real reverend, with a Ph.D., unlike my weekend visitor.) King soared as the most stirring speaker Abe Lincoln has ever heard, lifting up voices and hearts to sing from the South to the North, the East to the West.
After that, now this?