World, my son starts school today!

World, take my child by the hand, he starts school today!

It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently. You see, up to now, he has been king of the roost. He has been the boss of the back yard. I have always been around to repair his wounds, and I have always been handy to soothe his feelings.

But now things are going to be different. This morning he is going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand and start on a great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow.

To live in this world will require faith and love and courage. So, world, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him- but gently if you can.

He will have to learn, I know, that all people are not just- that all men and women are not true. Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero; that for every enemy, there is a friend. Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest people to lick.

Teach him the wonder of books. Give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill. Teach him that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Try not to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when every one else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to others, but to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and to take only the good that comes through.

Teach him never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears on the howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right. Teach him gently, world, but don’t coddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel.

This is a big order, world, but see what you can do. He is such a nice son.

-Abraham Lincoln

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