A print of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, shown on display at the National Portrait Gallery Credit: Courtesy of TNS

A print of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, shown on display at the National Portrait Gallery
Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Everyone thinks it’s a joke when I open up my laptop and there’s a picture of Abraham Lincoln looking back at me sternly.

Honestly, it’s caused quite a few double takes in class. But it couldn’t be further from a joke.

Lincoln inspires me to do more and to be more, as ridiculous as that might sound.

I’ve never been extremely invested in politics, I’ve never been a huge history buff, and I’ve never been very invested in presidents. I’m just madly in love with the idea of Abraham Lincoln.

It all started when my sister was in middle school. At the time, I was in elementary school and I wanted to do everything she did exactly the way she did it.

She got an A on a report she wrote about Lincoln, so because I idolized her, I decided I’d learn everything I could about Lincoln.

It was kind of like when kids decide they’re really interested in dinosaurs or that they want to learn everything they could about their favorite princess. Abraham Lincoln was my thing. It consumed me.

A year later when my sister went to Washington, D.C., on a class trip, she brought me home a small statue of the Lincoln Memorial. It was probably the best present I’ve ever received.

I played with it with my Barbies (he would always swoop in and save them from my ugly Ken doll) and carried it around with me.

For a while, that’s all it was. As I got older though, I put the little monument in a prominent spot on my shelves and when I went on my trip to D.C., I decided to learn more about Lincoln again.

And that’s when I fell in love with the idea of him all over again.

I say the idea of Abraham Lincoln because nobody’s perfect. Abolitionists accused him of being too complacent in anti-slavery actions, for example, and plenty of people criticized him for pushing the Emancipation Proclamation. I never met him and it’s impossible to know if I actually would have agreed with him if I had.

I also don’t think it’s healthy to idolize one person too much. What I do like is the idea of someone inspiring you to do more in your life, or the idea that someone could change the history of a country by refusing to give up.

This week marked the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. It’s a week of remembrance for me. A week to reflect the things that Lincoln did — at the things he excelled at, and on his faults. On the final days before his death and all the controversial plans he had to reunite the country. On the importance of equality.

It’s a time to take a look at how far we’ve come as a country and how far we still have to go, and most importantly, it’s a time to push myself to be a better person by standing up for other people.

It’s hard to put into words why I love Abraham Lincoln. It’s hard to put into words what it even means to me. My friends have tried to figure it out by buying me Lincoln bandages that have a little quip that says “I will heal your wound as I healed a nation!”

But I think the best way to sum it up isn’t by trying to explain the significance of a man or by using a bandage with his image on it. I think it’s in his own words.

“Die when I may,” he said, “I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would grow.”

I hope I can do the same someday, Mr. Lincoln.