My dad has been wanting to visit the Lincoln museum in Springfield, IL. It's supposed to be awesome, educational and wonderfully done. We intended to go last summer and ran out of time, but this year we set the date and marked it on the calendar. Yesterday, my husband, sister, father and I started on our well planned road trip to our state's capitol.
OMG! as the kids would say! Our state finally got something right! Of course it's mostly privately funded and for that I am truly grateful because this museum is something to behold. It's modern, full of historical treasures that not only display Lincoln the icon, but also Abe Lincoln the man. We started with the log cabin and Abe, the young lad, the story most of us know from our school books, but I felt a connection with this boy who so loved the written word. We moved on to the young apprentice Abe who learned to be a lawyer and then a senator. We watched a few extremely well made movies regarding the trials of war and how they affected Abe and his family. At another three-dimensional exhibit, we walked through the White House where we came upon Abe and Mary slipping away from a White House Ball to visit their sick son above stairs. We learned that a few weeks later their son Willie died, the second child to do so. Lincoln was already burdened by the war and now to have such tragedy brought into his home brought tears to my eyes. I knew he and his wife had lost two of their children, plus a third one when he was 18, but to see them looking so life-like with such tender concern made me realize Abe and Mary Lincoln had real life woes just as many of us do.
Being a bit of a history buff, I enjoyed the room where we saw Abe showing his cabinet members his draft of the Proclamation of Emmanciapation, (again all in three dimensional poses.) He had been working on this document for some time; no one knew he had been contemplating such a thing. As a writer I understood how he must have agonized over wording and wondering if he included everything the document would need to satisfy the most people. To this day, people still debate that issue.
I've always admired Abe Lincoln with his straight forward words; his Gettysburg address is delivered in a rotundra style room over-looking Cemetery Hill. I was at that very cemetery earlier this summer and his words hit hard, the power of his message that a house divided can not stand ~ a saying from an old aesop fable.
The tour of Abe's life at the museum was inspiring and humbling at the same time. There is a hallway where five portraits of Lincoln hang. He wears his burdens on his face and I could scarcely gaze upon them without tears filling my eyes. My husband mentioned how melancholy he felt as well at what he saw in those pictures.
We also visited the Old State Capitol building where Lincoln worked for several terms. In 1966, the building was torn down and then rebuilt to look as it did in Lincoln's day. They used the same brick and stone for the foundation and it sits where it has always sat. It's not old, yet it is. Many laws and decisions were made in that building; Lincoln won his candidacy for Presidency within those walls. I can only imagine how many papers he worked on while he was employed by the state.
We finished our day by visiting Lincoln's Tomb. Even in death, Abe was busy, busy being hauled for weeks across the country by railroad,for some thirteen funerals. His place of rest was moved a few times, once because of bad structure, once from attempted kidnapping and finally where he and most of his family now lay.
If you ever have the chance to visit Springfield, IL, I encourge you to take the time to visit the Lincoln museum and other historical sites. You won't be disappointed. And as a writer, the trip may inspire you to keep writing, to keep working at what your heart knows is your life's purpose, whether others believe in you or not. I came home today thinking Abe Lincoln faced many obstacles in his life, yet he stayed the coarse and it made all the difference ~ for all of us.
Til next time ~