Special events were held Wednesday at Abraham Lincoln's tomb.
SPRINGFIELD — The state of Illinois and its citizens paused Wednesday to honor the legacy of Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years after he was struck down by an assassin.
More than 600 people gathered in Lincoln’s hometown for a memorial service that included sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Tributes to the 16th president flooded social media, and Illinois legislators stopped their work to honor him. Special events were held at the tomb where Lincoln is buried, the Capitol where he served as a legislator and the presidential library dedicated to his life.
“Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to democracy and liberty continues to inspire people around the world,” said Amy Martin, director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. “It’s appropriate that we all take a moment to remember his amazing life on the 150th anniversary of his tragic death.”
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency operates the Old State Capitol State Historic Site, the Lincoln Tomb Historic Site and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, along with several other Lincoln-related sites.
Lincoln was shot the night of April 14, 1865, and died the next morning at 7:22.
To begin the anniversary day, volunteers at the Lincoln Tomb lowered the site’s flag at exactly 7:22 a.m. They turned it over to sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.
The sailors then presented the flag to Gov. Bruce Rauner at noon during a “Day of Remembrance” ceremony organized by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
“Illinois will forever be the land of Lincoln,” Rauner said.
He quoted from Lincoln’s Farewell Address expressing deep sadness at leaving the people of Springfield when he set out for Washington on Feb. 11, 1861.
“The sadness he felt at his parting was certainly less than the sadness and loss felt by the people of Illinois and the nation at his parting from this earth,” Rauner said. “If not for Abraham Lincoln, we would not exist today as 50 united states, the United States of America.”
The ceremony also included a prayer by Command Chaplain Maurice Buford of the USS Abraham Lincoln; music by Jim Cornelison, singer for the Chicago Blackhawks, and Shades of Blue Brass from the Air Force Band of Mid-America; and a keynote address on Lincoln’s humor and humanity by comedian and Navy veteran Tom Dreesen.
Other anniversary events Wednesday included an additional ceremony at the Lincoln Tomb, a display of furniture from Lincoln’s funeral train at the Old State Capitol, and a presentation on building a replica of Lincoln’s hearse at the Old State Capitol.
The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum continues to present two special exhibits related to the anniversary.
“Undying Words” focuses on Lincoln’s greatest speeches but also includes the bed where he died and the gloves, now stained with blood, that he was carrying at Ford’s Theatre. “A Fiendish Assassination” presents artifacts connected to Lincoln’s death and funeral, including two decorative medallions from his hearse.
For information on other events related to Lincoln’s death and the end of the Civil War, visit http://bit.ly/LincolnAnniversaries.