Lincoln portrayed as role model at museum
February 17, 2013
Abraham Lincoln was well represented Saturday at the Children’s Museum of Northern Nevada.Standing behind a long table filled with Lincoln books, portraits and artifacts, Wally Earhart guided young and old through an exploration of the man who many consider the greatest president.Earhart sometimes spoke to children in character as the 16th president himself — Lincoln beard and all — and sometimes as himself, a historian and speaker who made Lincoln a role model for his own life. “The man is so intriguing, so brilliant,” Earhart said, pointing out that more than 9,000 books about Lincoln have been published in the Unites States alone.He’s also the only president to have been awarded a patent, Earhart said. Lincoln’s invention could lift a river barge stuck on a sandbar to set it floating again. And Lincoln is the only sitting president to go into a field of battle.Although he never set foot in Nevada, Lincoln has close connections to the Battle Born State.“When Lincoln was inaugurated president, he said ‘I stepped into Nevada when I stepped into the presidency.’”The longest telegram in history was sent from Carson City to Lincoln asking that Nevada be made a state. It took the typist 10.5 hours to tap in the 16,000 words of the message, Earhart said.While Lincoln is now an prominent role model for many, he modeled his own life after George Washington.As a child of 10, Lincoln read Parson Weems’ biography of the first president, Earhart said, and told his father “I’m going to pattern my life after this creative man.”Amid the trains, slides and other kinetic displays at the museum, Earhart’s corner table was quiet. But to the older children who understood a little about Lincoln, the table was a place to linger, learn and touch the links to American history.“Are you trying to be like Lincoln?” Earhart asked a young girl who approached the display. “Have you ever touched something with a connection to Abraham Lincoln?” Earhart handed her a silver spoon with the Gettysburg Address etched into the bowl. More than one hundred years old itself, it was created for the 1909 Chicago Expo in honor of the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, he said. Then he handed her a book that was even older — a worn biography of Lincoln that was published while the president was still alive, followed by a small plastic bag with a piece of brick from Lincoln’s house.“It looks like a regular brick,” she said.Earhart told her how one little girl influenced Lincoln during his run for the presidency. Grace Bedell, 11, wrote a letter and suggested he should grow a beard, which would help him get elected. Lincoln did and soon after was elected president. On his inaugural train ride from Illinois to Washington, D.C., the president-elect stopped in Grace’s hometown and arranged to meet her.“You never know what impact you’re going to have,” Earhart said.