What Would Lincoln Do About The Energy Crisis?
Be a leader … stand up and be heard
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.” These powerful words spoken by Ralph Waldo Emerson are how I would summarize the concept of leadership. To be a leader, one must take chances and stand up for what he or she knows to be right. We are the leaders of tomorrow. And as the future generation, we should look back on the successes of our past leaders, leaders like Abraham Lincoln. In June, I was given the privilege to go on the Youth to Washington tour that was sponsored by Illinois electric and telephone cooperatives. Traces of Lincoln’s greatness were everywhere in Washington, at the Capitol Building, at his monument and at the White House. And it’s through historical sites like these that Lincoln’s legacy will live on forever.
On the first day of the trip, we stopped at Gettysburg, Pa. There, we went to the visitor’s center and looked at weapons and military equipment and then headed to the cyclorama to set the mood for the battlefield. As we walked through the battlefield, I was in awe of the number of people who lost their lives and of the sacrifices that were made during the war. And as we traveled further, we found ourselves at the exact spot in Soldiers’ National Cemetery where President Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln’s carefully crafted address came to be regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history. In just more than two minutes, Lincoln invoked the principles of human equality espoused by the Declaration of Independence and redefined the Civil War as a struggle not merely for the Union, but as “a new birth of freedom” that would bring true equality to all of its citizens, and that would also create a unified nation.
Being from the state of Illinois I am truly in the “Land of Lincoln.” President Lincoln has inspired me in so many ways. He wasn’t the most popular man in his time, but he stood up for what he believed and never stopped fighting for it. I trust that without Lincoln, our country wouldn’t be what it is today.
As I walked up the steps of the Lincoln Monument, I turned around and gazed out across the reflecting pool and saw the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building for the first time, and something hit me. On these very steps so much history had been made. Such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. giving his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” Standing in the shadow of the great emancipator, Dr. King followed the example set by President Lincoln in courageously standing up for what he believed even in the face of danger and skepticism. Both of these great men were killed for doing what they knew must be done to live in harmony and to unite the great country that we live in today.
Lincoln began his political career in the great capitol city of Springfield, Ill. in 1832 with an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly. Even though Lincoln lost that election he continued to work hard and became a lawyer. Eventually in 1846 Lincoln was elected to one term in the United States House of Representatives. As he gained the trust and loyalty of the American people, Lincoln ran for President in 1860 and became the 16th President of the United States of America.
Just like Lincoln, electric cooperatives have been leaders since they began to spread across rural America after President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Rural Electrification Act in 1935. Right now we are not only in a financial crisis, but we are also in an energy crisis. Electric cooperatives across the United States are making the effort to work together with local and federal government to have input with the major bills developing in Congress. As a sign of the times, we have to depend on less foreign oil and develop new forms of energy. Cooperatives are researching and developing new ways for renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear power and advanced clean coal generation. They can only do so much; so it’s up to us to contact our local Congressmen and tell them how we feel. It’s time the American people take notes from President Lincoln and stand up for what we believe in and be heard.
Luke Sailer is the son of Jack and Gina Sailer. They are members of Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative. Sailer is the 2009 Youth Leadership Council representative and will represent Illinois at national electric cooperative meetings.
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