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GEORGE WASHINGTON was the president who first issued a proclamation for Thanksgiving, but it was Abraham Lincoln's 1863 proclamation that made the holiday a national observance in November. Lincoln has never faded from the nation's memory, but this weekend the 16th president is very much the man of the moment, thanks to the new film "Lincoln" directed by Steven Spielberg. The year 1863 was also when the Battle of Gettysburg was fought, and Lincoln returned later that year to dedicate the cemetery where he delivered arguably the greatest speech by an American statesman, the Gettysburg Address. As part of commemorating the 149th anniversary of those events on Monday, Mr. Spielberg was asked to speak. He declared: "I feel a huge debt of gratitude to President Lincoln. In a sense, all Americans do."

HOW THE MIGHTY have fallen. A great Pittsburgh landmark, the Union Trust Building, constructed between 1915 and 1917 for industrialist Henry Clay Frick, is set for a sheriff sale on Jan. 7. In the latest development in the recent troubled history of the elegant building with its rotunda and stained-glass dome, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald dismissed a petition by its owner, 501 Grant Street Partners, for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. SA Challenger Inc., which holds the mortgage, can now foreclose on the property -- its second attempt to do so. According to court filings, it is seeking to collect $41.4 million. Let's hope the building has a new birth -- not of freedom but of usefulness.

IN SCRANTON, Pa., Salvation Army bell ringers for the annual kettle drive are taking cash or credit cards, as a story in the Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. But that's old hat for Pittsburgh. Salvation Army spokeswoman Virginia Knor said that in the early 1990s, PNC Bank developed a credit card machine in a kettle -- the first of its type in the world. It was used for about two years, but the conventional kettles proved more popular with donors and they are the ones used today (although the Salvation Army also receives donations via the Internet and text messaging). Since Black Friday, hundreds of bell ringers have been deployed; the Western Pennsylvania division of the Salvation Army collects in 28 counties. Let freedom ring, let donations ring.

opinion_editorials


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