President Lincoln may have been born in Kentucky, but Indiana claims his most formative years.
He lived in Indiana from age 7 to 21. He learned to read and write here. He buried his mother in the ground here. He learned here the values and developed here the inner strength that would help him guide the nation through the Civil War and preserve the Union.
So, right here in Indiana, we have reason to celebrate that a man so remarkable came of age in our home state - a gawky, awkward man who allowed us to call these states "united," and gave us some of the most inspiring and important language in all of our nation's sacred prose-the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address among them.
I am one of 20 members of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, given the mission of sharing with Hoosiers insight into the life our 16th president, highlighting his experiences in Indiana. The commission provides support and materials to schools throughout the state and tries to provide meaningful programs to make President Lincoln's legacy come to life.
Maybe you've seen the Lincoln-themed license plates or the new Lincoln Boyhood Home signs that have been affixed to the state's "Welcome" signs at all major entry points to our state. Both are special projects created by the commission.
To honor Lincoln on his bicentennial we've planned other projects:
· The Department of Natural Resources in collecting Abraham Lincoln lilac tree seedlings for planting at Indiana schools this spring.
· The Studebaker Museum in South Bend is restoring the 1865 Studebaker carriage President Lincoln rode in the day he was assassinated.
· Historical markers are being prepared and displayed to commemorate President Lincoln by the Indiana Historical Bureau.
· The Indiana Arts Commission, the Historical Bureau and the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission are collaborating to create and present a public art piece at the Lincoln State Park in Spencer County.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a huge Lincoln fan, and I collect Lincoln memorabilia.
Right here in Indiana, for many years, we had our own Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne. Last year, after museum staff announced plans to cease operations, there was a mad dash by many groups - mostly out of state - to acquire the many Lincoln artifacts held at the museum. It took a lot of effort, but these artifacts, including manuscripts and personal belongings, will now stay in Indiana where they belong.
If you would like more information about the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, go to www.in.gov/Lincoln/.
Happy birthday, Abe!