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The last surviving witness to Lincoln’s assassination lived long enough to share his story on TV

Samuel J. Seymour was 95 years old when he appeared on “I’ve Got a Secret.”

Samuel J. Seymour witnessed the assassination of President Lincoln.

Samuel J. Seymour was one of the approximately 1,700 people at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865, the night President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He was also the last to live long enough to talk about that historic night on television.

Seymour was 5 years old when he went to see the play “Our American Cousin” with his nurse, Sarah Cook, and Mrs. Goldsboro, the wife of his father's employer.

When Booth shot Lincoln, he pulled the trigger during the biggest laugh of the night so that it wouldn’t be heard. What caught Seymour’s attention was when Booth fell from the balcony after a scuffle with Henry Reed Rathbone.

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Identity

In praise of morning birds

Every morning, when the windows of my house are raised, I remember how much of a gift it is to be alive together.

Photo by Mark Olsen on Unsplash
gray and white bird on tree branch during daytime

On the day I heard my grandmother laugh so deep and so precious it made my stomach quake, I am sitting on the edge of my wooden kitchen table, staring out the window as the sun beats against the seals. The morning is hot, a bit of the southern stuffiness that happens in Georgia during the summer months, and the wind blows pages out of order as they sit on the table. Just a few moments ago, I am pouring my coffee into my dinner mug, setting it on the table, raising the windows a bit so that the warm breeze can enter my house. Ten minutes later, the red mug that I got from the bookstore some months ago is empty, the contents of the cup have warmed my insides. I close my ends. I take three long, deep breaths in. I take three long, deep breaths out.

And I hear the sound of morning birds.

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Photo by Pixabay/Pexels

Train tracks leading into Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Kanye West (who has legally changed his name to Ye) has been making headlines—again—not only for his bizarre public behavior, but for blatantly antisemitic remarks he made in recent interviews.

There's no question that Ye's comments praising Hitler and Nazis and denying that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust are hurtful and dangerous. There's no question that bad actors are using Ye's antisemitic comments to push their white nationalist agenda. The question is whether Ye fans would allow their admiration of his musical talents—or whatever else they like about him—to overshadow the fact that he is now regularly spewing pro-Nazi rhetoric to millions of people.

In at least one corner of the internet, fans are responding in what may be the most effective and meaningful way possible—by countering Ye's commentary with a deluge of Holocaust education and remembrance.

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Education

The case for decoupling the Thanksgiving holiday from US history altogether

A day for giving thanks and celebrating gratitude doesn't require an origin story.

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

It's time to officially make Thanksgiving purely about gratitude.

As families across the U.S. start prepping for family gatherings and feasts of turkey and mashed potatoes, people are engaging in the usual debates over the origins of Thanksgiving. Kids in American schools are learning various versions of the Pilgrims in Plymouth story, most of which are overly simplistic and many of which are flat-out wrong. People in Native communities are experiencing the familiar whitewashing of their side of that story, and people of goodwill are feeling torn about how—or whether—to celebrate Thanksgiving in light of the problematic history that has been ascribed to it.

Considering the whole, long evolution of the holiday, here's an idea: Let's officially decouple Thanksgiving from U.S. history entirely and make it a holiday that celebrates gratitude for gratitude's sake and nothing more.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting we "erase history" here. I'm simply suggesting we stop associating this holiday with any specific historic eras or events and distill it down to its pure essence. Despite the elementary school dramatizations seared into our collective psyches, there is barely a shred of a thread actually linking the Pilgrim origin story for our modern Thanksgiving holiday. Not only do we have the problematic mythology surrounding that "First Thanksgiving" event, but the entire idea that the Pilgrims are why we celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday today is totally untrue.

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