Friday, July 6, 2012
Buried: Springfield, Illinois
Died: April 15, 1865
See him: Illinois lives up to its motto as the Land of Lincoln, and Springfield lives up to its role as capital. Oak Ridge Cemetery is about a mile or so out of the heavily Lincolned downtown; drive up to the cemetery and you'll spot the gigantic monument with no trouble. Lincoln's body has been moved more times than a journeyman infielder through the National League, and it's been the target of graverobbing attempts as well, so what looks like the tomb is actually above the tomb; the man is actually 10-12 feet below and he's covered in concrete, so don't get any untoward ideas. Mrs. Lincoln and three of the four boys are entombed in the opposite wall (Robert Lincoln, in case you're wondering, is in Arlington Cemetery, having been Secretary of War and all.) The tomb also features a nice collection of Lincoln statuary - most of them are reproductions of famous pieces, but a few are original.
Also see: Geez, where to start? If you're already in Springfield, start with their multitude of Lincolnalia, including the Lincoln Home and the Lincoln Presidential Museum. Small towns in Illinois have made a point of emphasizing their connections to the man, no matter how small - Dixon features a statue of Lincoln in military uniform because he was stationed there during the Black Hawk War, and the town of Lincoln has several statues and historical markers telling the story of how he approved of the town being named in his honor, and a statue of a watermelon because he "christened" the town by eating the melon, or something.
Outside Illinois? Well, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington is a must; it's the final stop along the National Mall, and it's a stirring tribute, even if it's almost always filled to the brim with people. Assassination buffs will want to pay a visit to Ford's Theater and The Petersen House (aka the House Where Lincoln Died) - again, the history there is worth braving the crowds. Beyond that... LIncoln, Nebraska? The alleged Lincoln birth cabin in Hodginville, Kentucky? The list goes on and on. Essentially if you're standing in the United States there is something related to Abraham Lincoln near you. And if there isn't one, well, that's a tourist-related business opportunity just sitting there in front of you, now, isn't it?