On Wednesday my family and I made our annual trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites and pray at Lincoln’s tomb for the repose of the souls of Lincoln and his family. A few observations:
1. Heat: The phrase hotter than blazes is trite but it was very descriptive for the triple digit day. Walking outside was a trying experience with the heat and humidity. Illinois is usually green and lush this time of year, the towns and cities of Central Illinois being isolated islands in an endless green sea of corn and soybeans. Due to the drought, much of Illinois looks yellow and dead, with most crops under severe stress. Not good.
2. Time is a River: One of the reasons why I enjoy annual rituals like the drive to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, is that they are a good way to mark the passage of time. My wife and I began our trips when we were mid-twenties newly weds. This year our sons will be 21 in September, and our son Donald will be starting his junior year at the University of Illinois. Our “baby-girl” will be a senior in high school this year, and we are in the midst of the college search with her. Fortunately, my bride and I are not getting any older, or such reflections might take a turn to the melancholic!
3. Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation: This year is the 150th year of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. As in past years what moved me most at the Lincoln Museum was an exhibit showing Lincoln standing at his desk staring at a draft of the Proclamation, as shadows behind him representing historical figures give him contradictory advice: predicting doom or salvation for the Union if the Emancipation Proclamation is issued. I have never seen anything which so neatly encapsulates the loneliness of someone making a huge decision for his nation.
4. Assassination: Each year I spot something new at the museum. In the room which represents the laying in state of Lincoln’s coffin, I spotted this inscription on the top of the ceiling of this room, a quotation from a Lincoln speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on February 22, 1861: But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. Continue reading