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Turning 80, Will Looks to Lincoln

By Edward Epstein

Washington D.C.

Monday, May 10, 2021

While you may not always agree with conservative columnist George F. Will, he is always eloquent and insightful, whether he is writing about politics, economics, his beloved Chicago Cubs or Abraham Lincoln.

Will turned 80 on May 4, and in his latest column, he wrote about “the abundant pleasures” of reaching that age. One of those pleasures is remembering the example of Lincoln.

“All 80-year-olds whose lives have given them the faces they have should select for their phones’ wallpaper two photos of America’s most eloquent face. One should be of Abraham Lincoln in 1858, the year of his debates with Stephen Douglas. The other should be the photographic portrait of him, taken on Feb. 5, 1865. It captures what Walt Whitman called Lincoln’s ‘deep latent sadness.’

“These photos can be constant reminders, during today’s serial hysterias, of the sorrow that has accompanied the pursuit of a more perfect union,” Will wrote.

He noted that the passing furors of day-to-day life make a life like Lincoln’s all the more durable. “To be 80 years old in this republic is to have lived through almost exactly one-third of its life. And to have seen so many ephemeral excitements come and go that one knows how few events are memorable beyond their day.

“To live a long life braided with the life of a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to an imperishable proposition is simply delightful,” he concluded.

Will was born on May 4, 1941 in Champaign, Illinois, where his father was professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois.


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