By Tom Carrier
The 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, will be celebrated on Feb. 12, 2009.
For his steadfastness in keeping the United States from breaking apart during the Civil War, Lincoln is immortalized in memorials across the country, most prominently the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and on Mount Rushmore. His image graces postage stamps, coins and currency and numerous towns, cities, counties and the capital of Nebraska is named in his honor. Navy vessels and submarines have been named for him, and one naval vessel was named for his mother, the Liberty Ship SS Nancy Hanks.
To celebrate his 200th birthday, Congress established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in 2000, with a goal to “celebrate the life and legacy of Lincoln while reinvigorating his thoughts, ideals and spirit throughout America and around the world.”
As part of that national celebration, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill., launched “Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made In America” Bicentennial Tour, a mobile museum exhibit. “The exhibition examines Lincoln’s life from his poor beginnings to his ascension to the presidency and his assassination. Highlights include a visual recreation of Lincoln’s 1861 Farewell Address from a train car in Springfield as he left for the White House, and the award-winning ‘The Civil War in Four Minutes’ video presentation,” according to the exhibit’s website.
“What we got in here,” Lloyd Bunch, of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, says, “is a condensed version of the life of Abraham Lincoln. We start at the very first, talking about his childhood, being born in Kentucky, and his move with his family to Indiana and eventually to Illinois, where he became a self-taught lawyer, got elected to the House of Representatives and all the way to the presidency of the United States.”
From the very beginning, as you enter the double-wide trailer, is a hologram of Abraham Lincoln saying farewell to the citizens of Springfield after being elected president of the United States in 1860. A music box sits on a fireplace mantel that can be opened to hear the same music the Lincoln family heard at home, a replica of the clock that was used in Lincoln’s law office, a key to the law office, and numerous examples of the major and minor events of Lincoln’s life before and after the presidency.
“We have the Civil War in four minutes, an award-winning video that everyone needs to see. It really puts the facts of the Civil War in perspective,” says Bunch. On a screen a map of the United States continues to show the major and minor battles, the casualties for each with a running tally until the Civil War ends in 1865. “It’s a really touching video,” Bunch adds. And it is.
The exhibit ends with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 15, 1865.
The travelling exhibit will continue across the country until 2010 and will be featured at major sporting events, elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and other venues. It is free to everyone. Visit the exhibit website for specific times and places.
Now, Abraham Lincoln belongs to the ages and all of us.
Watch a video about the “Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made In America” Bicentennial Tour here.
Tom Carrier is a general Worthologist, with an expertise in a wide variety of subjects.
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