Springfield’s Star Studded Hero

“ Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say for one that I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” ( Abraham Lincoln)

I’m a huge Civil War enthusiast so one might expect Abraham Lincoln would appeal to my interests greatly during our road trip travels. So I scheduled Springfield, Illinois, the home of “Honest Abe” from 1837-1861 as a two night stopover on our most current adventure this week. In the past,  I’ve experienced the thrill of retracing the steps of Abraham’s life around his former home and surrounding neighborhood at 8th and Jackson Street near downtown Springfield.        

 I’ve also taken an “up close” look at Mr. Lincoln through photo tours of his restored, former law offices where he walked to and from for many years while litigating court cases for the entire state of Illinois around 6th and Adams Street. Yet as the weather began to turn blustery cold with heavy rain, we felt it an opportune time to stay indoors and concentrate our time visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum instead on the second morning of our visit.

So with a  very busy schedule on our Tuesday docket, we began our day with a “retro” return to the 1950s past with some early rock n’ roll and greasy, fast food breakfasting along Springfield’s Route 66 corridor at Charley Parker’s Diner. Driving then to a conveniently designated parking lot downtown, we then easily managed to  dodge the pelting rain by walking through the undercover canopy of historic Union Station across the street to the Lincoln Museum. On a more seasonably dry day, I would have taken more time to explore this historic depot that most prominently served as the site where newly elected President Lincoln left Springfield for Washington D.C. on February 11, 1861 and posthumously returned home on April 14, 1865 for his ceremonial burial.

Entering the vast lobby of the museum itself, my attention immediately fixated on a lifelike, wax model depiction of the Lincoln family including Abe, wife Mary Todd and their four children. This stirring monument marked the beginning of a two hour, “state of the art” tour covering Mr. Lincoln’s iconic legacy of key time junctures  in his  life through engaging “surround sound” theaters, captivating photographs, and original artifact display memorabilia.

The first of these visiting strands that particularly caught my interest  took place at  the Union Theater, whereby I took an unique look at an aging Lincoln face from an artist’s perspective which according to this expert revealed an intriguing contrast of both sadness and joy. Thus it seemed difficult for me to know the kind of person Abraham truly represented during his political life of fame. Moving on to the “Journey Two” corridor I examined the stressful four years of Mr. Lincoln’s Presidency when he experienced the seemingly unending struggle of upholding the integrity of his beliefs to bring forth a successful end to the long Civil War while in contrast being subject to so many cruel attacks by political and personal foes to undermine his administration. His original writings that produced his famed Gettysburg Address and Emancipation Proclamation as well as an alleged death mask molded on Lincoln’s face a few months before he was assassinated on April seemed notably interesting in this regard as well. 

Moving backward in time, a much calmer depiction of Lincoln’s early life took place at the “Journey Two” section as I observed Abe’s amazing transformation from poor log cabin conditions in rural Indiana and Kentucky to the growing city environment of Springfield, Illinois where he exhibited gifted intellect, superior storytelling skills and ultimately became a political winner on the Illinois campaign trail.

Perhaps the “larger than life”legend of Abraham Lincoln could best be depicted for me as we concluded our Springfield visit on Tuesday at the towering presence of Lincoln’s Tomb interring him and his family. Located on a quiet hill overlooking old, antebellum residential streets of Springfield, this honorably final resting place for the Lincoln spirit preserves fond memories of who I believe will be acknowledged  as America’s greatest President for many generations to come. Enjoy the photos.

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