Monday, January 26, 2009

Who’s your hero?

Come on, you know you’ve got one. Is it a teacher, a coach, a grandparent, a single parent? Whether you’re six or 96, you can share the story of a hero in your life – and if you’re a winner, you’ll win a trip to Springfield to visit Lincoln sites.

The “Looking for Your Lincoln Hero” Global Essay and Art Contest is a joint on-line venture between the My Hero Project and the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition designed to personalize Lincoln’s legacy for a worldwide audience.

Those of you who read my blog know I rarely use “canned messages” – press releases prepared by others. In this case, there’s a lot of information to share, so much of it is borrowed from the pen (or keyboard) of my friends at Looking for Lincoln, but reformatted and reorganized for online viewing.*

Lincoln – a hero through the ages
Abraham Lincoln exemplified the qualities of a leader with integrity, compassion, perseverance and an unwavering commitment to the moral principle that all people are created equal. He continues to be a role model for people today.

Honor your hero with an essay or artwork
The Looking for Your Lincoln Hero contest encourages young people and adults to think about the people in their lives who share some of Lincoln’s heroic qualities and write an essay about them. Art entries should feature the artist’s contemporary hero, and may include a brief description relating that hero's qualities to those of Lincoln.

Contest details are available on the My Hero website. Essays and artwork are due by March 1, 2009. Teachers and students can also be linked to learning materials supporting the project.

In all, 25 essay finalists will be selected from the following groups:

  • Grades K-6
  • Grades 7-12
  • College
  • Adults

One finalist from each age group will be selected to win a trip for two to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and Lincoln Legacy sites across the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area

And the judges are…

Contest judges include:

  • Paul Rusesabagina, the real-life hero of "Hotel Rwanda" who saved more than 1,000 people from the Rwandan genocide
  • Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission co-chair
  • Dr. Daniel Stowell of The Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Eileen Mackevich, executive director of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
  • Kathryn Harris, director of Library Services, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
  • Dr. Marcia Young, board member, Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition

Finalist judges for artwork include:

  • Stan Lee, creator, Marvel Comics creator
  • Kay Smith, Artist Laureate of Illinois

Smith has also loaned some of her artwork for the website’s Lincoln Art Gallery.

Contest sponsors

The contest is supported by:

  • National Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
  • The Lincoln Institute
  • Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

Contest co-chairs are Senator Dick Durbin and LaHood.

Wonder why they’re doing this?
“This contest is designed to transport the legacy of one of our great American heroes to the present. Abraham Lincoln’s most admired strengths of principle and character throughout his life and during some of our nation’s most tumultuous times have been sources of inspiration for generations of Americans and people around the world. We are inviting writers and artists to share the story of someone in their life whose strength inspires them in a similar way,” said Senator Durbin.

“We are pleased to co-chair the ‘Looking for Your Lincoln Hero’ global online essay and art contest. We hope teachers everywhere will study Lincoln this year, encourage their students to find the Lincoln hero in their lives, and tell us about them in their essays and artwork,” said Secretary LaHood.

About My Hero Project
The My Hero Project is a not-for-profit, interdisciplinary website that honors the very best of humanity. All across the globe, students of all ages, along with their teachers, parents, and friends, use to learn about those who better the world around them, whether that world is as small as a single household or as large as an entire continent. In turn, visitors, who generate nearly two million page hits each month, are also able to share their own stories about people who help make a difference.

About Looking for Lincoln
The Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area, enacted last year by Congress, is managed by the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to preserving, interpreting and promoting the Lincoln Legacy in Illinois, including the iconic sites of Lincoln's Home, Law Office, Old State Capitol, Lincoln Tomb, historic New Salem, and the world-class Presidential Library and Museum. The Coalition also helps to tell the stories of many other significant sites across 42 counties of central Illinois where Lincoln enjoyed friendships, married and raised a family, mourned the loss of a child, practiced law, held public office, and debated famous political rivals on his unlikely journey to the White House. The National Heritage Area designation allows enhanced and expanded opportunities to educate, preserve, and interpret the heritage and culture across the region as it relates to Lincoln's life. To plan travel and learn first-hand about Lincoln's life journey, visit:

*Special thanks to Hal Smith of the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition for enthusiastically sharing information about this neat contest with me via email and through a press release.

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