By Leigh Morris
For the Star-Gazette
Though scheduled to meet the 44th president in Galesburg, Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon made room in her schedule to visit Beardstown and pay homage to the nation’s 16th president on July 24.
Simon was the keynote speaker at last Wednesday’s dedication of the Audio/Visual Project at the Old Lincoln Courtroom & Museum on Wednesday, July 24.
Visitors now can learn about the various aspects of the museum through professionally produced English and Spanish video presentations. The videos may be seen on the five monitors in various locations in the museum.
A student of Abraham Lincoln herself, Simon lauded those – especially the school children – who contributed the $10,000 needed to make the project a reality. Students collected $813.50 through the “Pennies for Lincoln” campaign.
“There’s going to be a kid who speaks Spanish,” Simon said, “who is going to hit one of those displays and hear about and be inspired by Abraham Lincoln and think, ‘Maybe that’s something I can do. Maybe I can be that great.’”
Simon also expressed her gratitude that Beardstown has preserved the courtroom where Lincoln successfully defended William “Duff” Armstrong on May 7, 1858.
The lieutenant governor said she was heavily influenced by Lincoln since her own childhood, noting that her father, the late Sen. Paul Simon (D., Ill.), was a student of Lincoln and the author of the book “Lincoln’s Preparation for Greatness: The Illinois Legislative Years.”
The Audio/Visual Project is the fulfillment of Connie Foley’s dream. Foley, who serves as secretary of the Old Lincoln Courtroom & Museum Commission (OLCMC), came up with the project idea after visiting a museum in Biloxi, Miss. When she described the concept, the commission immediately embraced the idea.
Following the dedication ceremony, Simon departed for Galesburg to help greet President Barack Obama, who delivered a major economic address at Knox College.
The Old Lincoln Courtroom & Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Old Lincoln Courtroom & Museum Commissioner Chris Massie presents Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon with two books from the museum’s gift shop. (Leigh Morris Photo)