Sunday, July 5, 2009

Appeal of A. Lincoln - and kindness of strangers - are universal

Sometimes, when you set out on a journey to explore your own interests and to satisfy your own hunger for knowledge, you find some pleasant surprises along the way. Some of the greatest unplanned gifts along my Lincoln trail have been the many fine people I've met in person or in cyberspace who share an interest in or passion for Abraham Lincoln.

Recently, a reader left a comment on my blog. He told me he, too, had been interested in Lincoln as a small child. He directed me to his own Lincoln blog. With a few clicks of the mouse, I was transported to another place and time. The blogger, Sebastio Albano, wrote of a small Brazilian boy who ventured into a dark, out-of-the-way room in the basement of a church several decades ago. There he discovered a face in a book which seemed to pull him in. You guessed it. The image was Abraham Lincoln - and the small boy is now the man, Albano.

As an adult, Albano made a pilgrimage to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites. Thirty years later, he still remembers his visit to Lincoln's Home. Just as strongly, he remembers the kindness of a stranger who sat down beside him and extended a kindness which transcended generations, cultures and continents. This stranger made Albano's trip even more special by going out of his way to take the Brazilian to see yet another Lincoln site, his tomb. In his excitement, Albano didn't get the stranger's name. He regrets that.

When I heard the story, I thought of one of my favorite journalists, The State Journal-Register's Dave Bakke. Bakke and I have been in touch off and on by email for a number of years now. We share a common admiration for a late Illinois investigative journalist, Rick Baker. In fact, both of us keep Baker's books near our work areas as inpiration (and I keep Bakke's there, too.)

Bakke's really, really good at telling stories like this one. He's also really good at using his column to reach out and reconnect people with long lost friends, family, even cherished objects such as lost rings and long-forgotten baby books. His column brings people together and often extends a cord which entertwines with others to create a rope binding the present and the past.

When I shared Albano's story with my fellow Lincoln blogger, State Journal-Register metro editor Mike Kienzler, who blogs as Abraham Lincoln Observer (ALO), he thought Bakke might like the story, too, and pitched it for me. Just maybe, the three of us together can help Albano find his friend and say "Thanks." And, please, no bad jokes about how many journalists it takes to tell a Lincoln story or find a Lincoln friend.

One more little coincidence makes this story even more significant. It appears today in the State Journal-Register, though Bakke first thought he'd run it earlier. This just happens to be the final day of a conference in England. The conference theme - The Global Lincoln.

Sebastio Albano's story shows us Lincoln is indeed global. It also leaves us wondering - would he have freely experienced such a gift of thoughtfulness in the U.S. if Lincoln hadn't lived? You see, the kindness Albano recieved was bestowed by a black man.

Be sure to read:

Do you have your own global Lincoln story? If so, let me know. Let's keep sharing our enthusiasm throughout the world - in the bicentennial year and beyond.

© Copyright 2009 Ann Tracy Mueller. All rights reserved.


Naim Peress said...

The cultural historian Robert Hughes once said,"Culture creates experience." It did in your case.

Naim Peress

Lincoln Buff 2 said...


I just wish we could find Sebastio's Springfield friend. To the best of my knowledge he hasn't come forth. It sure would be cool if he did.