Decency [IN, MO]June 28 in the United States
We began the year with George Washington's call for tolerance for all religions in his letter to a Jewish synagogue in Newport, RI. On our trip back west we visited the homes of three US presidents who exemplified decency-- something so bereft in our current president that we are sometimes embarrassed to call ourselves Americans.
Lincoln lived only twelve years at this farm in Indiana and not much from his days there survives but its formative influences are clear. He learned empathy from his mother who tended to ailing neighbors until she herself died of milk fever. There are also the other well-known trademarks-- learning to read by candlelight, spin yarns, perseverance and the value of hard work.
Grant's "home" outside St. Louis was actually owned by his slave-holding father-in-law. Grant lived there in the 1850s, witnessing the horrors of slavery and frequently engaging in heated arguments with his wife's father. During this period Grant also freed his only slave.
Truman's "home" also belonged originally to his in-laws but he called it home almost his entire adult life. One of Truman's favorite aphorisms was “I tried never to forget who I was and where I came from, and where I was going back to.” Maybe humility and decency come from living with your in-laws.Read more