After hearing from college trustee Dan Weinberg, state Rep. Rich
Brauer, Mayor Keith Snyder and state Sen. Bill Brady, Blackburn
introduced Ron Keller, the museum curator and director.
turning the podium over to Keller, Blackburn made a few introductory
He said he wanted to recognize the assistant director, Anne
Moseley, who has done wonderful work on the museum, as well as many
others who have been involved in the project.
Introducing Keller, Blackburn noted that he is not only the
director of the museum but also a "powerful and great history and
political science professor." Blackburn continued: "That is
important to our students because he brings that knowledge of
Lincoln and the Civil War period and his knowledge of history into
the classroom and connects the dots for our students. He is the
co-author of 'Abraham Lincoln in Logan County' and 'A Respect for
the Office: Letters from the President.' In 2009 Keller was given by
the state governor 'The Honor of Lincoln,' which is the highest
honor given to citizens of Illinois, to individuals who work for the
betterment of humanity, and whose dedication are the principles that
Abraham Lincoln stood for.
"I can't tell you enough how many hours Ron Keller has spent
getting us to where we are, and how many selfless decisions he has
made to make sure this museum is what it was supposed to be. We are
very fortunate to have faculty and directors like Ron Keller."
Keller opened by saying he also wanted to recognize and thank
Moseley, "who day-to-day has poured her heart, her time and talents
into this museum, and she needs as much recognition as I do, maybe
Keller went on to say he would borrow a phrase, or rather, alter
a phrase: "It takes a village to raise a museum."
He spoke about all the help the college and museum have had
throughout the years and drew special attention to those who
actually put the vision into form.
He acknowledged Taylor Studios of Rantoul, Edison Studios of
Little Rock, Ark., and Native Sun Productions of San Antonio, Texas,
and said there were representatives from two of the firms in the
audience to witness the grand opening.
He also thanked Lincoln College and its board of trustees, the LC
maintenance crew, the ceremony planning staff and many others who
have been dedicated to making the grand opening a special event.
Finally he thanked the hundreds of financial donors who contributed
to the museum, and he mentioned specifically the Woods Foundation.
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Keller then spoke about a favorite poem of Abraham Lincoln,
"Mortality." He said Lincoln committed the poem to memory and
wrote it out as his personal form of therapy to help himself
deal with depression. The museum is the proud owner of one of
only two copies of the poem written in Lincoln's hand.
In the spring of 2013, the Lincoln College Music Theory II
students were asked to compose original music for the poem. Ten
students participated, and of the 10, Cody Garretson's composition
was chosen as the best.
Keller read a recent quote from Garretson about his piece: "My
composition is quite simple, but as I thought about the struggles
and strengths of our 16th president, these events were not simple.
They were complex. Our country was divided by the Civil War. Many
brave men lost their lives. This deeply saddened President Lincoln.
The poem 'Mortality' mirrored this sadness, and I hope this
composition also mirrors how President Lincoln felt."
Keller then introduced Garretson and said that he and Nicole Ker
and Derrick Spiker would play the composition for the audience.
After the music, Keller wrapped up by saying that he felt the
Lincoln Heritage Museum was one of the best museums he has ever
seen. He admitted he might be biased but added a quote from a recent
conversation with Bill Hoagland of Main Street Lincoln, who told
him: "You could take this museum and put it in a big city, and it
would still be one of the best museums in that city."
Keller said: "I appreciate that support, and it is nice to know
that we are not the only ones with our rose-colored glasses; that
other people feel the same way."
When Keller had finished speaking, Andi Hake of the Lincoln/Logan
County Chamber of Commerce came forward. The guest speakers, college
board members, city and county officials, chamber members, Bomke,
Blackburn, Keller, and Moseley were all part of the official
Hake offered a few comments congratulating the college on this
massive achievement and also noting the benefit this new attraction
would have economically for the city and county.
After the ribbon-cut, guests were invited inside for refreshments
and, of course, the first look at the new museum.
[By NILA SMITH]