Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Looking forward – Peering back

This past week was a busy one for the Lincoln buff, with Lincoln activities five out of seven days. Let’s take a peek back at the culmination of my Heartland College Lincoln class and at other Lincoln events I attended in Central Illinois. Let’s also look forward to what the Lincoln buff has planned now that my course is completed.

Never too much Lincoln
I began a whirlwind week on Tuesday, Dec. 2, as one of nine students giving oral presentations of our term papers. To learn more about the class, the students and the paper topics, see my article, Lasting Mark Left by Lincoln Class.

Wednesday of last week found me joining hundreds of other Central Illinoisans fighting freezing rain on I-55 as I travelled to Springfield to a Public Relations Society of America meeting where Julie Cellini of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission told us what the commission has done to prepare for the bicentennial, what they’ve accomplished to date and what we have to look forward to. I’ll tell you more in a future article. It’s exciting.

The Lincoln world was well represented at that meeting, with people there from the Bicentennial Commission, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. All have great accomplishments behind them and a great task before them in preparing for Lincoln’s 200th birthday. It should be a celebration to remember.

On Thursday, I was accompanied by my young granddaughter to the volunteer and foundation member reception at the David Davis Mansion. What little girl – or big – wouldn’t be excited about seeing a beautiful 19th century showplace dressed up in all its holiday finery – right down to a teddy bears’ tea party? Watch future posts for more information about this architectural and historic treasure in Bloomington (Ill.), which has strong connections to the Lincoln legacy.

On the two days I didn’t have Lincoln events, I was preparing for one. I spent Saturday and Sunday studying for my final exam. Lest I give the questions away to future students of this class, I won’t give you the topics. Let it suffice to say one involved something which touched Lincoln’s entire life – a heavy, but important topic. I absorbed it, though, and made it through my Monday night final, melancholy that this once-a-week intellectual fix was coming to an end.

During my lunch time on Tuesday, I attended the dedication for the first of a number of Looking for Lincoln wayside exhibits in the Bloomington-Normal area. The Bloomington exhibits are just a handful of the more than 200 which will grace sites with connections to Lincoln from one end of the Prairie State to the other by the end of 2009. I’ll tell you more about this ceremony, the wayside exhibits and the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition in future articles.

What’s on the horizon?
Although the class is finished, the Lincoln buff is just beginning. In 2009 and beyond, my schedule is ambitious. My first order of business is to complete an industry designation I’ve started for my real job. I’ll begin study this week and continue it through and beyond Lincoln’s February 12 birthday. So, if there are times when you don’t see a post for a day or two, don’t give up on me. Just realize I may have had to take time to study.

As for Lincoln, I won’t let him down. I plan to continue the blog and, to work toward my goal of growing my knowledge – and yours - of the life and legacy of Lincoln, I’ll be spending much of my vacation time attending Lincoln celebrations and scholarly events, including:

In the coming years, I also plan to:

  • refine and expand my paper on Lincoln and his mentors,
  • continue my work on Lincoln and Sandburg and on Lincoln in Illinois literature, and
  • begin an in-depth study of David Davis and his relationship with Lincoln.

The blog lives on
My original intent was to keep the blog active through 2010 to extend more than a year past the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth. However, a very wise Illinois historian recently reminded me the interest in Lincoln will surely intensify and continue as the commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War begins in 2011 and extends through 2015. Though that commemoration will likely be somber rather than celebratory like the Lincoln Bicentennial, it will serve as a time to continue to teach and to learn. God willing, I’ll be here and so will the technology so that this forum can continue to share what’s happening, what’s new in Lincoln scholarship and what I’ve learned. I’ll try not to let you down.

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