Scenes from the Lincoln Tomb Flag-Lowering Ceremony

“To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything.” —A. Lincoln upon leaving Springfield for the presidency, Feb. 11, 1861

Hello from the great state of Illinois. It’s beautiful here, but really quite hot, and why are all the cities named after Sufjan songs?

I’m writing from the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in Springfield, IL. I’ve taken a 24-hour break from birthplaces to see the Land of Lincoln, where the sixteenth president spent the bulk of his adult life; where he uttered a brief, moving farewell upon departing for the presidency on February 11, 1861; and where, today, his remains rest in a concrete vault ten feet below the burial chamber of the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery.

The coffin traveled over 1,500 miles by railroad car from Washington D.C. Stop schedules for the train had been published in newspapers nationwide, so mourners all over could arrive and pay timely respects. A nationwide mourning campaign, the sort of nationwide outpouring of bottomless sorrow that, internet or no internet, the twenty-first century has never known.

The body was moved below the floor to a steel- and concrete-reinforced vault in 1899, intending to thwart would-be grave robbers, “because an attempt on the body had been made in 1876.”

Who would want to steal Lincoln’s remains, I wonder?

And then, who wouldn’t?

Earlier tonight, we attended a solemn flag-lowering ceremony by a group of Civil War reenactors. Shoddy video footage from that event appears below.

It’s considered good luck to rub Lincoln’s nose on the bust outside the tomb. Below, a boy tries desperately to reach.

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