Today is the birthday of one of my heroes: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. He is a hero of mine for many reasons. One of the most important reasons is also why he is the most revered President in American history. He became known as the “Great Emancipator!” He signed into law the Emancipation Proclamation and declared that all slaves should be freed!

From the time I was 10 years old, I began to read every book I could find about his life and legacy. I was so inspired by his life that I ask God to allow me to be at least 6’4” like him! There are so many stories I could share with you, but the following may be one you did not know.

Shortly before the election of 1860, a man came upon a plantation near Marlin, Texas, some 20 miles southeast of Waco. Though nobody knew who he was, the plantation owner took him in as a guest. The stranger paid close attention to how the enslaved people working on the plantation were treated—how they subsisted on a weekly ration of “four pounds of meat and a peck of meal,” how they were whipped and sometimes sold, resulting in the tearing apart of families. Eventually, the stranger said goodbye and went on his way, but a little while later he wrote a letter to the plantation owner, informing him he would soon have to free his slaves— “that everybody was going to have to, that the North was going to see to it.” The stranger told the owner to go into the room where he’d slept and see where he’d carved his name into the headrest. And when the slaveholder went and looked, he saw the name: “A. Lincoln.” Abraham Lincoln visited plantations as a beggar in disguise, so he could talk with slaves and encourage them that they soon would be free. He attended secret prayers meetings all across Texas and in the South with slaves and he would tell them, “Soon you will be free!”

Happy 209th birthday Mr. President! The world is better because of you!

One other little-known fact: He was the first to establish Thanksgiving as a holiday in 1864…maybe the TRUE SECRET of all his success was GRATITUDE! What are you grateful for today?