Stovepipe hats, amazing hoop skirt fashions, and train whistles carried us back 150 years during a group reading of Lincoln's Farewell Address at ISU. We were part of a national record-breaking effort to have the most people reading en masse. The reading was the short speech that Abraham Lincoln said to well-wishers as he left Springfield, Ill., to his new position as President in Washington, D.C. The words are heartfelt, melancholy, yet hopeful.
I would like to thank the librarians at ISU's Milner Library who helped organize the event and particularly asked if Jacob would enjoy leaving school for awhile and participating in the event as one of the lead readers. We were happy to have him participate in a different educational setting for a few hours. He appreciated being part of the interesting Lincoln event. He wore the stovepipe hat that my parents bought for him at Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky. He also wore a black t-shirt from the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, which we have visited many times. We thought it was great to see his name as a lead reader in the program. And it's cool that he's in the lead of the article by the Pantagraph reporter.
When the Lincoln re-enactor gave the speech again after our first mass reading, he had a wonderful way of conveying the sadness and optimism that the new President must have felt. Gary Simpkins, playing Lincoln, understood the gravity of the situation that the Illinois man was facing.
The reading was also the kick-off for the Sesquicentenial of the Civil War. Guess I'll have to work to remember how to spell that word because remembering the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is going to be an important moment to recollect the War Between the States. Sometimes that seems long ago. Then we read books, such as Russell Freedman's wonderful Lincoln: A Photobiography or Candace Fleming's The Lincolns: A Scrapbook, visit the battlefields of Gettysburg or Antietam or Shiloh, see the first capital of the Confederacy in Montgomery, contemplate the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., listen to the wistful tunes of the day, re-read Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, examine dagguereotypes, consider the long-term effects of slavery, listen to the continuing battle of states rights vs. federal rights, and suddenly those days don't seem so long ago. The historical anniversary is welcome.