On Tuesday, as I watched the inauguration of Barack Obama on TV with a group of fellow Obama supporters, I wore a silver medal with the profile of Abraham Lincoln on the front. Around the edges of the medallion are the words: "WITH MALICE TOWARD NONE, WITH CHARITY FOR ALL" and the date Feb. 12, 1809. On the other side of the medal are the words "Awarded by the Public Ledger to Sam Wendkos for Merit in Essay on Abraham Lincoln -- 1909." (These days I need a magnifying glass to read the writing.) Exactly 100 years ago, at the age of 10, my father won this medal from a Philadelphia newspaper for an essay that he wrote for a contest held 100 years after Lincoln's birth.
It's especially meaningful to be wearing it now, 200 years after Lincoln's birth, to the inauguration of our 44th president, a man who could never have been elected to this position without Lincoln's role in our country's history -- and who speaks often of his debt to and connection with this 15th president of our United States.
My heart bursts with pride. And it bursts with gratitude, too, to the two women who guarded this small treasure: my grandmother, Dora Wendkos, who saved this medal and eventually passed it on to my children's grandmother, my mother, Leah Wendkos, who saved it for so many years and then passed it on to me. I treasure it and plan to pass it on to my daughters and to their children. I'm sure one of those will value it as much as I do. And so I see an important role for us grandmothers -- to protect and preserve important family memories and heirlooms.
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