Interest in all things Abraham Lincoln never wanes much. But with Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” movie, there has been a spike in the passion for Abe. In about a month, “Lincoln” is expected to receive Academy Award nominations, Best Actor and Best Picture probably among them.
Springfield hopes to benefit in several ways from the current Lincoln mania, including increased tourism for the city’s Lincoln sites and events.
It could also boost the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition. Hey, it couldn’t hurt. On Lincoln’s birthday in February, my column unveiled the coalition’s plans to re-create Lincoln’s funeral here on May 1-3, 2015, the 150th anniversary of his burial in Springfield.
Its website includes a tentative schedule of events and lists about 40 supporters lined up so far. Among them is the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Also on board are the Illinois National Guard, Benedictine University, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, the Sangamon County Regional Planning Commission, various Civil War reenactors and the Enos Park and Lincoln Park neighborhood associations. More are to come.
“The funeral reenactment,” says Springfield Mayor Mike Houston, “will be a great opportunity for the state, city and students of history from all over the world to come together and remember the sacrifice President Lincoln made for human rights and the union of the world’s greatest nation. I am already working closely with the Coalition and I look forward to working with all the other organizers and volunteers who will once again showcase the story of Lincoln to people on all corners of the earth.”
If it comes off, the reenactment will be a huge event for the city, complete with a replica of the locomotive that pulled Lincoln’s funeral train here from Washington and a reproduction of the hearse that carried him from the train station to his final resting place in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Descendants of the original pallbearers will be contacted to be pallbearers this time.
Support on the state level has been mostly symbolic so far, but will be useful later when the heavy lifting comes. In August, the Illinois House passed a resolution in support of the event. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno introduced a resolution designating April 28 to May 4, 2013, as Abraham Lincoln Memorial Week “to acknowledge the efforts of the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition advisors, partners, and participants for their mission to preserve and honor the legacy of Abraham Lincoln as they prepare for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the President’s final return to Springfield.”
“The coalition is very successfully moving forward,” says its chairwoman, Kate Spindell. “There’s a tremendous amount of excitement out there, and this will be an extraordinary opportunity for this city.”
And who wouldn’t want to support that?