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[Opinion] President`s Promise

Posted March. 14, 2003 22:43,   


Abraham Lincoln`s nickname was `Honest Abe`. When he was 24, Lincoln was in business with a partner in a store. Due to his partner`s lax business practices, however, the business soon became heavily indebted. Under the law at the time, Lincoln could have filed for bankruptcy and moved to another state. Yet, he worked hard and paid off all his debt.

Lincoln once worked as a postmaster in a rural village. Years after the office was closed, the government sent people to collect outstanding mail fees. Meeting with the visitors, Lincoln pulled out a sock full of coins from an old box. The sum of the coins was exactly equal to the total amount of the outstanding fees.

The reason Lincoln remains the most remembered and respected president in the U.S. is no doubt that he accomplished such great achievements as victory in the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. His honesty, however, also contributed significantly. Carrying out a promise and being honest is a great virtue, but it is not easy to always be virtuous throughout one’s life. This is why stories of honest people touch our hearts.

President Roh yesterday visited a middle school in Jinhae, Gyeongnam Province. He was there to keep a promise he had made two years ago: ’I will come back to see you again after I become president.’ For those young students there with the president yesterday, his visit will surely stay in their hearts about a president sticking to his word.

President Roh told students that he wanted to be a great president like Lincoln, which is a reminder that Lincoln has been his role model. It is widely known that he respects Lincoln most. He also wrote a book titled ‘I Met Lincoln’. His emphasis on principles is also akin to Lincoln’s political faith. They resemble each other in terms of family background and career. If Lincoln had met President Roh, then, what he would have said to him?

The office of presidency, by its nature, requires a president to make a lot of promises. Roh made a lot of promises during his presidential campaign, and still has to make more when he meets people and listens to their wishes. A promise made must be fulfilled. But what if a situation stops him from delivering on a promise? The best policy is then honesty. If Lincoln could advise him about a job, he would say something about honesty. Just as he carried out his promise to young students, we sincerely hope Roh can be a president who fulfilled his promises and who was honest after five years. Then, he will go down in history as Lincoln did.