Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president. He was the 16th president of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War: the bloodiest, most moral, Constitutional and political war. On Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves within the Confederacy forever.

Lincoln would not let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue in a most moving statement, “That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain ”“ that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom ”“ and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.” This address, given at the end of the Civil War, is one of the most repeated speeches throughout history.

Why is “honest Abe” my favorite? Lincoln’s brilliant mind is still with us through his words. Lincoln’s teachings can never be silenced. His words live on in speeches that he left for us to listen to. He lived in an age when oratory was well respected. Political thinkers thought and spoke about the relationship of government and the people.

How might his noble works benefit us now? Lincoln deeply respected the founding fathers and gained inspiration from the words of the Declaration of Independence.

Lincoln’s secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, wrote a history about him. Over four years of the Lincoln presidency, they had as good a view of the unfolding Civil War battles ”“ both military and political ”“ as Lincoln himself. From their writings, biographer Joshua Zeitz wrote in his book, “Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image”: “President Lincoln was a masterful politician who evolved personally over the years in his capacity to envision a biracial democracy and who used his mastery of politics to build and then to use populace opinion against an institution that he had always despised on a gut level.”

Presidents Day ”“ Monday, Feb. 17 ”“ recognizes both Lincoln and George Washington, who both had February birthdays. It also marks the first day of school vacation week in southern Maine.

Saco Parks and Recreation Department is offering programs during the vacation week. The department also offers afterschool programs, and programs before school and on early release days throughout the year. Youngsters may also sign up for winter basketball programs now. For details, contact the department.

The Parks and Recreation Department is also inviting anyone over 50 to the first SENIORity social program starting Tuesday, Feb. 25. Open social times will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 8:30-11:30 a.m. This will be a fun, social time with small, organized activities or for participants to just sit and chat over coffee and bagels.

— Zaffie Hadiaris of Saco is the host of “Zaffie,” a weekly television talk show on Channel 3 Biddeford public access. It can also be seen at biddefordmaine.org. Contact Hadiaris at [email protected]