“Remarkable” Remarks

Dear Reader:

As you know I love quotes and new words….language fascinates me. Since I taught the Presidents I researched not only Presidential inaugural addresses for the perfect quote…but also fun quotes that made them human…showing their wit and humor.

But no matter how famous a quote or speech (“Fourscore and seven years ago”) I don’t think anything takes the place of a kind remark that can change a life completely around.

President Lincoln was famous for calling for clemency when given papers to sign for executing Union soldiers for a series of different military infractions. Short of treason, President Lincoln always thought that a live soldier was more valuable to the war effort than a dead one.

The generals demanded that the President be tougher on his pardons or he, as commander-in-chief,  would wreck havoc with their discipline…so President Lincoln used the “red tape” of government to keep delaying as many of these death sentences as possible throughout the war.

The following true story is an example of how kindness and wit certainly saved many young soldiers’ lives from execution by a kindly, sympathetic President.

Let me give another anecdote bearing on the same subject. A Congressman went up to the White House one morning on business, and saw in the anteroom, always crowded with people in those days, an old man, crouched all alone in a corner, crying as if his heart would break. As such a sight was by no means uncommon, the Congressman passed into the President’s room, transacted his business, and went away.

The next morning he was obliged again to go to the White house, and he saw the same old man crying, as before, in the corner. He stopped, and said to him, ‘What’s the matter with you, old man?’ The old man told him the story of his son; that he was a soldier in the Army of the James – General Butler’s army – that he had been convicted by a court-martial of an outrageous crime and sentenced to be shot next week; and that his Congressman was so convinced of the convicted man’s guilt that he would not intervene.

‘Well,’ said Mr. Alley, ‘I will take you into the Executive Chamber after I have finished my business, and you can tell Mr. Lincoln all about it. On being introduced into Mr. Lincoln’s presence, he was accosted with, ‘Well, my old friend, what can I do for you to-day?’ The old man then repeated to Mr. Lincoln what he had already told the Congressman in the anteroom. A cloud of sorrow came over the President’s face as he replied, ‘I am sorry to say I can do nothing for you. Listen to this telegram received from General Butler yesterday: ‘President Lincoln, I pray you not to interfere with the courts-martial of the army. You will destroy all discipline among our soldiers.’ – B.F. Butler.”

Every word of this dispatch seemed like the death-knell of despair to the old man’s newly awakened hopes. Mr. Lincoln watched his grief for a minute, and then exclaimed, ‘by jingo, Butler or not Butler, here goes!’ Writing a few words and handing them to the old man. The confidence created by Mr. Lincoln’s words broke down when he read – ‘Job Smith is not to be shot until further orders from me. – ABRAHAM LINCOLN.’

‘Why,’ said the old man, ‘I thought it was to be a pardon; but you say, ‘not to be shot till further orders,’ and you may order him to be shot next week.’ Mr. Lincoln smiled at the old man’s fears, and replied, ‘Well, my old friend, I see you are not very well acquainted with me. If your son never looks on death till further orders come from me to shoot him, he will live to be a great deal older than Methuselah.’ 1


Kelly Rae Roberts shared a sweet story about kindness in her newsletter concerning her eight-year-old son, True. Now that they are living in a small town…the restrictions on bike riding have been lifted somewhat allowing True much more independence which he loves.

He rode his bike to the local bike store and found some cycle gloves that just fit his small hands. He was so excited and told the owner he would go home and ask his dad about getting them for him. When he got home, however, Kelly’s husband said “no” for the moment…he would talk to True about earning some money later. Disappointed True got on his bike and rode all the way back to the store to let the owner know that his dad had told him he couldn’t get the gloves “right now but thanked him for finding a size that would fit him.”

The owner looked at the tired little boy who had made the trip back again just to let him know and he told True he could see he was a good boy and he liked helping good boys. He gave him the gloves.

When True got home he was so excited and told his parents what had happened. Kelly said she felt like crying because True missed their old house in Portland, his school, and friends…but now he was starting to feel an affinity for this smaller town he was living in where people showed an interest in each individual and demonstrated kindness in so many ways.

Whether kindness is shown to a little homesick boy or from a President to a sleepy young teenage soldier…the remarks made in one moment can change lives and memories forever. Kind words are “remarkable” remarks. Words for the ages.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Look Who’s Back….I love it when annuals pretend to be perennials and return the next year! My pintas and others are popping up everywhere!

This reflection of my birthstone hanging door angel reflected off the glass storm door early yesterday morning as the sun rose..so by the time I came into the den ….there was its silhouette growing larger across the back wall. I knew it was a sign that all would be okay with Brooke and her appointment.

I went early to Walterboro so we could spend sometime together before the appointment. We both liked her doctor and thank goodness the news is fixable but it will require surgery…the x-rays showed the muscle in her shoulder is completely torn from the rotator cup. Everyone was extremely kind and we both feel like she is in good hands…and always in God’s good hands.

The big moment in the Boston trip for Rutledge was when he got to drive the duck boat in the water (looks like a natural) and Caleb, Brooke’s little grandson tried on the bunny mask/sunglasses Boo brought  him yesterday. Too cute!


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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