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Everyone needs chance to leave legacy like Lincoln

Tuesday marked the 150th anniversary of the assassination of our nation’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln.

Numerous events have been — or will be — held to commemorate the occasion and to celebrate the legacy that he left behind.

In Springfield, Ill., where Lincoln lived for 30 years and is buried, many will gather May 1-3 to re-enact his funeral as a way to bring together diverse people, organizations and institutions in a collaborative and cooperative tribute.

For Civil War re-enactors, along with people and organizations steeped in history, the president’s death brings an end to 150th anniversary of the War Between the States.

Lincoln was just 56 when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Ford Theater, but he had accomplished so much during his presidency.

His Gettysburg Address, for example, was originally intended as “a few appropriate remarks” for the dedication of a national cemetery. But the 272-word speech captivated those in attendance and thousands of others, turning the cemetery from the site of a tragic battle where many perished into a place and symbol of hope.

And the Emancipation Proclamation forever ended slavery in the United States.

Although the Civil War divided the country, he was instrumental in bringing it back together. His campaign for re-election brought a promise for peace as he urged Southerns to lay down their arms and be welcomed back into Union.

Even the words — “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…” — from his second Inaugural Address are inscribed on the Washington, D.C., memorial in his honor.

Scores of years later, his legacy lives on and numerous presidents — and other leaders — have been inspired by his words and actions during their most trying times. Imagine what he could have accomplished had he lived longer.

Boulder City High Schools students had an opportunity to envision what it means to have your life cut short last week during the Every 15 Minutes program.

Intended to teach the dangers of drinking and driving, the program brought the scene of a fatal auto accident to the students. There, amid the rubble of crumpled cars and shattered glass, were the bodies of their friends.

Then, throughout the day, more of their friends were removed one by one from their classes, returning later with their faces painted white as ghostly reminders. They weren’t allowed to interact with anyone, including their families.

The following day, there was an assembly where the students brought their own tombstones and watched a video that showed the reactions of their families and friends upon learning the news of their deaths. The also shared goodbye letters, with snippets of what they could have accomplished.

Even at a barbecue to reunite the students with their families after the assembly there was a somberness in the air. The tombstones, sitting behind backpacks filled with unfinished class assignments and homework, drove the message home. There sat many hopes and promised left undone.

If that were not enough to remind Boulder City youngsters and adults about the importance of their decisions and how drinking and drugs can affect their lives — or end them — the Nevada Community Prevention Coalition gathered together many community organizations for an event Saturday that promoted better living.

They gathered in Bicentennial Park to help teach area residents about the dangers of substance abuse and offered resources to get sober and drug free.

But more than that, the groups were there to show their support. They offered a variety of alternatives, such as community service or religious guidance, as a way to kick the habit.

Any one of approximately 40 event participants could be the answer to a person’s problem. The message was clear: You can do something to make sure you live a long and happy life. You never know who could be the next Abraham Lincoln. All you need is the chance to try.

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