his hand on a small, burgundy velvet Bible, President Abraham Lincoln
spoke the words that every U.S. President has spoken as he took his
presidential oath of office, “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully
execute the Office of the President of the United States, and will to
the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
the United States.” His words, like every other President’s, would go
down in history as the nation watched another peaceful transition of
power in the history of our democracy. What President Lincoln did not
realize, however, was the 148 year history that this particular Bible
would come to represent.
Historical buildings and the symbols, artifacts, and objects within them
help to tell the story of our nation. Since the inauguration of George
Washington, each of the 44 presidents of the United States has placed
his hand on a Bible while swearing the Constitutional oath of office,
and many presidents have chosen to use a Bible that holds personal or
historical significance to them. The Bible has not only played a storied
role in our presidential inaugurations, but it is a symbol that
represents the unique religious heritage so rich to our nation’s more
than 200-year history.
This year, President Barack Obama chose to swear his oath of office on
the same Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his inauguration in 1861. As
our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln led us out of the dark period of
slavery in the United States so that African Americans could be given
the freedom they deserved, and the Lincoln Bible has come to represent a
148-year epoch in civil rights, from the freeing of slaves, to
desegregation, and now to the swearing in of the first African American
president of the United States.
That small, burgundy velvet Bible that Abraham Lincoln used has become
one of the objects so important to our American history. Though small in
size, Lincoln’s Bible holds vast historical significance. It uniquely
captures both America’s long journey of civil rights and America’s rich
religious heritage – together providing an important symbol of the story
of our nation.
That is why I have introduced a resolution calling on the Capitol
Preservation Commission and the Architect of the Capitol to place the
Lincoln Bible on permanent display at the Capitol Visitor Center, the
newest addition to the United States Capitol. Each day, nearly 15,000
visitors go through that building to learn the history and operations of
the United States Congress through artifacts, documents, videos, and
images. It is important that those items accurately reflect our history
and for visitors to see the times of triumph, times of loss, times of
revolution, and times of conviction that have defined our nation. It is
also important each portion of our nation’s history is accurately
Currently, no inauguration Bible is on display in the Capitol Visitor
Center and there is no mention of the significant role that our
religious heritage played in the civil rights movement. In fact, a small
iron table used by Abraham Lincoln during his second inauguration to
hold the Bible is on display in the Center, but without the Lincoln
Bible. We cannot afford to miss opportunities like this to share the
complete story of our nation with the 15,000 visitors who visit daily.
It is only appropriate that the Lincoln Bible be placed on display to
enrich the experience for Capitol visitors so that they may fully
appreciate both America’s journey of civil rights and our nation’s rich
Our Founding Founders established our nation “with a firm reliance on
the protection of Divine Providence” and with the idea that “all men are
created equal.” Their foresight wove the rich tapestry of faith and
freedom that makes our nation one of liberty and justice for all. We owe
it to ourselves and to our future generations to make sure that this
rich history is preserved and sustained.
Photo by Michaela McNichol, courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Heart Health Month
Throughout the month of February, we
observe American Heart Health Month, a time to bring awareness and
attention to heart disease and its complications. According to the
American Heart Association, heart disease remains the number one cause
of death in the United States for both men and women. In fact, heart
disease claims more women’s lives each year than cancer, stroke, chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes
combined. It is also responsible for more deaths in women than all
forms of cancer combined.
The American Heart Association has
identified several risk factors that can lead to heart disease and the
complications associated with it. The more risk factors you have, the
greater your chance of developing heart disease. Some of these risk
factors can be modified, treated or controlled, and some cannot be. The
controllable risk factors include: smoking, high blood pressure, high
blood cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight or obese, and physical
inactivity. Individuals who take preventative measures to control these
things decrease their risk of heart disease. To begin a new healthy
lifestyle and lower your risk of heart disease, the American Heart
Association provides information on things you need to know.
Learn Your Risks for a Heart Attack
It’s essential that you measure your
risk of heart disease and make a plan for how to prevent it in the near
future. Use this tool to help you assess your risk of having a heart
attack over the next ten years and create an action plan to reduce your
Examine the Risk Factors of Heart Disease
The more risk factors you have, the
greater your chance of developing coronary heart disease. Also, the
greater the level of each risk factor, the more chances increase. Use
this information to decide if you have risk factors for heart disease
and how you can modify them.
Know the Warning Signs
Heart attack and stroke are
life-and-death emergencies — every second counts. It is vital that you
know the warning signs, and know how to respond quickly and properly if
warning signs occur.
Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Better lifestyle habits, including
healthy eating and staying fit, can help you reduce your risk for heart
attack. Learn what healthy steps you can take to help prevent heart
disease and stroke.
Start Using Healthy Recipes
Eating healthy can lower the risk of
heart disease. Try these recipes and discover how easy it is to enjoy
deliciously healthy meals at home.
Staying fit can help you reduce your
risk for a heart attack. Get tips and tools for making physical
activity a fun part of every day.
Body Mass Index calculator
BMIs are good indicators of healthy or
unhealthy weights for adult men and women, regardless of body frame
size. Excess weight increases the heart's work, raises blood pressure
and blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowers HDL (good)