Saturday, March 20, 2010

In with the Lincolns

Your eyes are not deceiving you! That is us with the Lincolns. Who knew time travel was already possible?! Or maybe it is just very realistic wax copies.....

This past week was the kids Spring Break, so we took a day trip, via the train, up to Springfield, IL to see the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Home*. I would highly recommend a visit. We started off at his home. It was really cool to stand where he stood - where his family lived. They have done a wonderful job restoring the house and some of the surrounding houses. Admittedly, though, I was most interested in Mary's kitchen and sewing nook.

After lunch we headed to the formal museum. It is much bigger then it first appears. The above picture of us with the Lincoln's is in the central atrium. From there, it branches out into different aspects/topics of Lincoln's life; boyhood, politics, slavery, civil war, White House. There are a couple of well done movies and a great political ad campaign overview by the late Tim Russert. This is in addition to the well-done displays and artifacts. We even got to see one of the three surviving Lincoln hats! The kids loved Mary's Attic. It was full of historical toys and costumes for the kids to play with.

One of the more meaningful parts to me was seeing a relative highlighted in the Civil War display. Orion Howe was one of the youngest (12 y/o) Union soldiers in the war. They had a reproduction of his uniform and a little blurb talking about his fate. He was a drummer boy, who was wounded, re-enlisted at 14 and was awarded the Medal of Honor. He then went into the Navy, fought several battles overseas, returned home and became a dentist. He lived to be 81. It was fascinating and I got a little teary thinking about all this child went through.

The museum did a good job of relating how horrible the Civil War was and how unpopular Lincoln's policies were. I came away with a lot of sympathy for Lincoln and his family. Not only did they have numerous personal tragedies, but the toll of being president and keeping a country together was enormous.

*The Lincoln Home is a federal site so the kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge!

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