Commander praises Lincoln’s ‘moral clarity’
American Legion National Commander Daniel Seehafer visits the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln on Monday, Feb. 12. Photo by John Raughter/The American Legion

Commander praises Lincoln’s ‘moral clarity’

American Legion National Commander Daniel J. Seehafer elaborated on the meaning of right making might during two keynote addresses at the 90th annual American Legion Pilgrimage to the Tomb of Abraham Lincoln Monday.

“President Lincoln had moral clarity, which defined his entire career,” Seehafer said during a wreath-laying held on the morning of the 16th president’s birthday. “He knew it was right to preserve the Union and emancipate the slaves. His charitable nature would have undoubtedly benefited his most hardened opponents had an assassin’s bullet not robbed this nation of his leadership during reconstruction.”

During a luncheon that day, Seehafer pointed to Nazi Germany, the Japanese empire and the Soviet Union as examples of military strength without righteous cause.

“They did not have the moral clarity needed to prevail. In fact, they had just the opposite,” he said. “Oppression, aggression and genocide were their vices and downfalls.”

American Legion Post 32 in Springfield, Ill., has led the longest running annual observance held on Lincoln’s birthday since 1935.  At least 13 departments were represented at this year’s pilgrimage.

“This annual pilgrimage is now an American Legion Family tradition and one that would please President Lincoln were he to join us today. Our family is reunited once again,” said Sons of The American Legion Squadron 32 Commander James Peters, Jr. “We are honored to host the national officers of The American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Sons of The American Legion and members of the American Legion Family from states across the nation to honor President Lincoln, our state’s favorite son, America’s greatest president and this tradition.”

American Legion Auxiliary Past National President Sharon Conatser, an Illinois native, compared Lincoln’s commitment to veterans to that of the American Legion Family. “In 1855, he said, ‘Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other thing,’” Conatser said. “As an American Legion Family, our resolution to succeed in taking care of our country’s veterans, military and their families is of the utmost importance. It’s been our mission for more than a century, and we will continue to accomplish it. Lincoln believed it when he walked the Earth, and we still believe it and follow that mantra now.”

Sons of The American Legion National Commander Don “J.R.” Hall also spoke at the wreath laying. “President Lincoln once said, ‘The most reliable way to predict the future is to create it,’” Hall said. “Today, the greatest way to honor him is to create a great future as the American Legion Family.”

Seehafer suggested that Americans should think about Lincoln when they vote. “In November, our nation will once again return to the polls to elect a commander-in-chief.  We should all be inspired by the man whose birthday we celebrate today. In this room, we have Democrats, Republicans and Independents, yet we are here for a common cause,” Seehafer said. “ We are here to remember one of American’s greatest presidents. In his heart was not an R, D or an I. It was a V, for veteran. It is ironic that the man who led the nation during its most divided period, and the man who famously said, ‘A house divided cannot stand,’ is today perhaps the most beloved and unifying figure in American history.”