Sunday, March 1, 2009

Want to see what you may have missed?

If you weren’t able to celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth in person, it’s not to late to see some of the events you may have missed. As they have been so often, our friends at C-SPAN were there to chronicle some of the happenings.

I had the opportunity to be there myself for several of these, but even I couldn’t be in Washington, D.C. and Springfield at the same time, so the C-SPAN videos allowed me to catch up on the ones I didn’t see.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum events
On Sunday, Feb. 8, I had the opportunity to attend two events where several of my favorite Lincoln scholars or enthusiasts presented. You won’t want to miss:
  • Eric Foner’s talk, “Reflecting on Lincoln”
  • The panel discussion moderated by Lincoln memorabilia expert Daniel Weinberg and featuring Lincoln collectors Philip Kunhardt III, Jack Smith, Louise Taper and Frank Williams

Senator Dick Durbin speaks at Lincoln Tribute Dinner
Monday, Feb. 9, Senator Dick Durbin spoke in Washington, D.C. on “What Lincoln Means to Me.” Durbin is a co-chair of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, a long-time supporter of the need for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and a public servant representing the district Lincoln lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. His devotion to keeping the legacy of Lincoln alive is deep-seeded, sincere and much appreciated. We’re fortunate to have him and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood as champions of Lincoln both in Illinois and for the nation.

Congressional Bicameral Celebration from the U.S. Capitol
On Lincoln’s 200th birthday, Feb. 12, 2009, a special celebration was held in our nation’s Capitol. C-SPAN was there to capture the festivities, including remarks from President Barack Obama. As we waited in Springfield for a Lincoln luncheon to begin, one of my Lincoln buff friends who is a great champion of technology and one of the most social media-savvy fellows I know, was watching coverage from Washington on his cool compact notebook computer. I wasn’t able to that, so I was thankful to find it online later. I think you will be, too.

President Obama speaks at Abraham Lincoln Association Banquet
I was also fortunate to get my ticket early, before we even knew President Obama was coming to Springfield for Lincoln’s birthday bash. Being there when he spoke was almost surreal. It was one of those times in life where you take something in and try to savor every morsel of it, but feel almost as if you’re on the outside looking in. It’s great to have the C-SPAN video of the speech to listen to again and again to recreate the historic moment and to reflect on this new President’s words about the President we’ve long revered.

C-SPAN – Champion of Lincoln legacy
The bicentennial week festivities play only a small part in the commitment C-SPAN has for teaching people about Lincoln through the worldwide web.

C-SPAN continues to promote Lincoln. For earlier coverage of Lincoln events, authors and publications, be sure to return often to:

You’ll also want to check out the C-SPAN book, Great American Historians on Our Sixteenth President, edited by C-SPAN's CEO Brian Lamb and co-president Susan Swain. Profits from the book go to a great cause, as C-SPAN is directing any royalties from the sale of the book to the nonprofit C-SPAN Educational Foundation which creates teaching materials for middle and high school teachers.

My C-SPAN connection
It’s always neat when you have a brush with greatness. My first personal encounter with C-SPAN came in the 1990s when the network came to my hometown of Galesburg (Ill.) to film the Lincoln-Douglas debate reenactment at the Knox College’s Old Main.

My job at the time kept me from participating directly in the event, but many folks whom I knew from the community were dressed in period dress, some of my customers were actors in the production and the store where I worked catered food for the cast of hundreds. I did get to join the audience for a few minutes late in the afternoon and felt the importance of the legacy this piece would leave.

In 2005, when I attended several days of events surrounding the opening of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, C-SPAN was there. They filmed many of the events I attended, including the dedication ceremony visit by our 43rd President George W. Bush and a then-senator who was to become our 44th President, Barack Obama.

During one of the events, I got to ask a question of a three-generation panel of Lincoln scholars – David Herbert Donald, Harold Holzer and Matthew Pinsker. I knew I wanted to someday do work related to Lincoln, but lamented that I feared I may be coming at it too late in life. I asked the panel, moderated by Brian Lamb, for advice. Their advice was sincere, direct and heart-felt: “Come to events like this one. Study Lincoln. Get to know those who share your passion.” That’s what my journey and this blog are all about.

I didn’t count on having to answer a question myself, though, but Lamb did what he does so well. He asked the million-dollar question – the one that makes the interviewee look inward – and he asked it of me: “If you wrote about Lincoln, what would you write about?”

I didn’t know the answer to the question that day. I just knew then I wanted to help tell the Lincoln story. After three years of introspection, hours of study and time spent in the Lincoln community, I can answer that question, and I have Lamb and his network to thank for it.

Over the next couple years, I’ll be developing my plans for the Lincoln topics I know I can best cover. Along the way, I’ll keep sharing Lincoln-related information with the rest of you. Thanks for visiting Lincoln Buff 2 blog.

And, Mr.Lamb, thanks for asking the question that made me look at my Lincoln interests in a deeper light. You’ll never know what it meant to me.

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