Must See: General John Borling Recites the Gettysburg Address


men we love -men-we-love-john-borling-feature

Photo by John Reilly

Abraham Lincoln’s 272-word Gettysburg Address remains as powerful, compelling and true today as when he delivered it in 1863.  It reminds us that our country was founded on the compelling principles of liberty and equality, that good men perished in pursuit of this worthy cause and that as a nation we must continue to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. . . that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Last year, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation published a book,Gettysburg Replies,” containing 272-word essays responding to the Gettysburg address  from modern-day political, business, academic and business leaders – including all living U.S. Presidents and Stephen Spielberg. They reveal the intense hold this speech still has on our collective American psyche.
Three contributors to “Gettysburg Replies” recently taped a WTTW/PBS television show at the Pritzker Military Library with the CEO of the Lincoln Library, who also edited Gettysburg Replies, Carla Knorowski, Ph.D.  I enjoyed the good fortune of being in the small audience for the taping – particularly because I am a fan of all three contributors – Newt Minnow, former FCC Chairman and longtime Sidley Austin partner; Sam Harris, Holocaust survivor, proud American citizen, Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center Founder and New Trier Alumni Hall Of Honor inductee; US Air Force Major General John Borling, a pilot shot down and imprisoned for seven-and-a-half years during the Vietnam War and published poet.

Borling deeply inspired me when I interviewed him for the Make It Better “Men We Love issue in June 2013. But his recitation of the Gettysburg Address at the taping took my admiration to new heights. I doubt there was a dry eye in the audience afterwards.

Minnow declared that “General John Borling’s recitation of the Gettysburg Address is unforgettable. It should be heard in every classroom in America;  students should be told how General Borling survived being a prisoner in Vietnam by reflecting on  President Lincoln’s historic definition of democracy.” And I agree.

Therefore, please stop, drop and watch this short video clip from the taping of the General reciting the Gettysburg Address to enjoy a most inspiring reminder of what it means to be an American:

Sam Harris’ essay “The Best Place On Earth,” which he discusses in the show and you can read in this recent Make It Better post about Lincoln’s legacy, is another reminder for us, too. It was written by him in 1951, only a few years after he had escaped the concentration camps.  He explains, “I had written this essay as an assignment at New Trier High School, when I was a sophomore…[then entered it] in the Lincoln Essay Contest when I was in my late 70s and I still think the United States is the best place on earth.”

Be sure to watch:
Premiering Sunday, February 21, 2016 at 11:00 a.m. CST on WYCC-20, Chicago and online at

All That I Am I Owe To My Angel Mother

“All that I am I owe to my angel mother”
– Abraham Lincoln

Much that I am I owe to my mother too – but she was so much more than just an angel. Her playful, determined spirit is devilishly disarming. And that’s allowed her to be a wonderful change agent for the better for women, children, and society.

Much that I am I owe to my own children too. Being their mom keeps making me better.

Photo courtesy of Earth Heart Foundation, whose mission is to honor and empower mothers in the United States as change leaders and peace builders.
Happy Mothers Day.

Lives Made Better 92,901 and counting

Quotes That Remind Me of Our Potential for Greatness

If you are like me, you can use reminding of all that life can be. We each have the ability to become great – as doers or as parents fostering the best in our children.

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother. 
Abraham Lincoln

Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. 
Albert Einstein

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force — that thoughts rule the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Mark Twain 

Lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Lessons from Great Presidents


John & Skatie Noyes with an original Gettysburg Address handwritten by Abraham Lincoln at Cornell University, which also has originals of the Emancipation Proclamation (executive order eliminating slavery) and 13th Amendment (US Constitution Amendment eliminating slavery).

My children, John & Skatie, and I spent time perusing the most important original documents of Abraham Lincoln’s president – the Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment – and other extraordinary rare manuscripts and books in Cornell University’s collection today.

Preserving our nation and abolishing slavery were such nobler ideals than those being bantered around by our current politicians. Why can’t we elevate our national conversation to nobler levels now? The United States is still the greatest, freest nation on earth.

Question for Americans today: What issues should U.S. statesmen own now, a la Lincoln and slavery?

“To educate a man in mind and not in

morals is to educate a menace to society.”

Theodore Roosevelt
(1858-1919); 26th U.S. President