Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Joliet and Springfield, IL; Visiting the Lincoln Presidential Museum

We left Ionia, MI on Sunday after enjoying a wonderful time with the Great Lakes Escapees Chapter 6 members. The sad part is that we had to bid goodbye to our friends Bill and Jan Mains, with whom we’d been traveling for 2 weeks, and to all the friends we’d been with during the rally.

We reached Leisure Lake Resort on the west side of Joliet, IL a little after noon. Our pull-through site was perfect, with a great view of the small but nice lake right in front of us. A few folks went out in paddle boats during the afternoon, and a couple in kayaks just before sunset. If we’d stayed longer we would have gotten our boats wet. Another place to put on our “return someday” list.


John and Karen Knoll came by to visit, thanks to Jan Mains who knew they were there and alerted them to watch for us. We met them at the Chapter 21 rally in Parker, AZ last January. At least, I think that’s where we met. Have you ever met up with people you knew you knew, but you don’t remember when you met? We had a nice long chat with them and are hoping to meet up again in NM or AZ this fall/winter.


We had dinner at a place Jan had recommended, Portillo’s Hot Dogs. I later learned that this Chicago-based chain now has a location in Tempe, AZ. They also have locations in Indiana and Southern California as well as Illinois, and have so much more than hot dogs, too. Check them out!


Yesterday we drove south to Springfield, so I could visit the Lincoln Presidential Library and other sites of interest. Don had been here before we met, but he had forgotten some of it and wanted to see it again. We got info from Chris Yust on RV parking in the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Thanks! We found the campground office without trouble based on her directions, and got a full hookup site with 50 amps. It’s on asphalt, which doesn’t help with the heat (110 degrees heat index when we arrived!), but at least we can run 2 air conditioners. And the price is right – only $20 when the state fair isn’t going on.


Our visit to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum today was fascinating. Housed in two buildings across the street from each other and linked by a 2nd story enclosed bridge, the Library is primarily for researchers.


The Museum is mainly for the general public and offers several excellent hi-tech exhibits using holographs, live actors, interactive displays and videos. There’s even a ghost!


Photography wasn’t allowed in most of the areas inside, so I only took this one picture from the indoor Plaza (it was allowed). I strongly encourage anyone with a chance to come visit the Museum to do so. It was a wonderful, educational and awesome experience! I gained a much better understanding of Lincoln’s Presidency and the Civil War.


Later we visited Lincoln’s Tomb in the Oak Ridge Cemetery. This enormous structure is evidence of the high level of respect Lincoln earned after his tumultuous years in the Presidency. The obelisk is 117 feet high, after being rebuilt in 1899-1901 to correct a failing foundation, and adding 15 feet to the height.


The bronze statue shows Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation. Statues grouped at the corners represent the major armed services commanded by Lincoln during the Civil War. Metal from 65 cannons donated by the U.S. government was used for part of the castings of the military groups.


This sculpture stands in front of the tomb, and its nose has been rubbed so many times by visitors that it shines! The original stands in the Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. The sculptor was Gutzon Borglum, of Mt. Rushmore fame.


Inside, the prototype of the statue on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. stands in the circular entry. Notice the shiny toe of the right boot.


This sign explains the monument in the next picture, as well as the flags surrounding it and the crypts on the other side of the hallway.



We drove by the following memorials on the other side of the cemetery: Illinois Vietnam Veterans, inscribed “To those who died honor and eternal rest. To those still in bondage remembrance and hope. To those who returned gratitude and peace.”


Korean War, inscribed “They gave of themselves and ask nothing in return, these magnificent warriors.”


A separate memorial for The Chosin Reservoir, Korea 1950, with the inscription “The most savage battle of modern warfare, 12,000 casualties of 15,000 troops. 17 medals of honor and 70 Navy Crosses were awarded; the most ever for a single battle in military history.”


And the World War II Illinois Veterans, with a timeline of major battles and events carved in two granite walls extending from the central globe of the world that symbolizes the involvement of more than 200 nations.


At the end of today, I feel so humbled and appreciative of all the courageous people who helped create the world in which we now live.

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