To the editor: President Obama's respect, admiration and affinity for President Lincoln should be neither questioned nor doubted. There is certainly adequate background relevant to his admiration for, and study of, our 16th president.

His reason, or reasons, for deciding to forgo attending the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address should not be held suspect by the editor. Of one thing I am absolutely certain: that decision is far more difficult for him than anyone - any one of us - could imagine. I'm sure there will be discussion about his responsibilities, about appearances, about what would be the 'right' thing to do.

Nov. 19 will be an extraordinarily difficult day for the president, politically and emotionally for sure. Let there be no doubt that should he have chosen to attend, the political right would certainly skewer him like never before for his having the "audacity" to do so, as now, when he has made public his choice to pass up on attending.

It should be worth noting that, 50 years ago, President Kennedy chose to pass up the same invitation for the 100th anniversary of this speech and, instead, went to Dallas. Of course, that's when he was shot and killed. Perhaps just a little too much fatalism crept into our president's thoughts. Certainly, there is a cadre of lunatics out there who would choose such an auspicious occasion to repeat that deed with our first black president. "How appropriate," one of these lunatics might think. Perhaps the president was warned of just such a plan by the Secret Service.

How many recall that not only for his first inauguration, but for his second as well, Obama chose to use Lincoln's Bible for his swearing-in ceremonies? I could imagine how honored he must have felt.

This affair won't be the first or last day of this presidency. Yet, from newspapers around Pennsylvania alone, we've already heard, "nothing less than a profile in cowardice," "simply didn't have the stones," "uninterested or unwilling," and "deeply disappointing." Incredibly brazen. Where do they get the "stones" to second guess what should be so obvious? It would likely prove to be one of the most memorable speeches of President Obama's legacy, were he to give this address. On the other hand, after all he's been through, and, with all that's going on now, I don't think it would be the end of the world if he sits this one out. For Barack, more than anyone else on this earth, it will be a sad, yet momentous day indeed.

Ritch "Doc" Santer

Mount Carmel