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simultaneous reading of the Gettysburg Address February 12

simultaneous reading of the Gettysburg Address February 12
For Immediate Release:

November 19, 2008
Contact: David Blanchette (217) 558-8970
Matt Vanover (217) 782-4648
Lauren Dolan (312) 799-2161

Four score and seven on the 200th Birthday
School children across the nation encouraged to take part in
simultaneous reading of the Gettysburg Address February 12
for Lincoln's 200th Birthday

CHICAGO, IL — President Abraham Lincoln delivered what would become one of the most famous speeches in world history on November 19, 1863. Today, on the 145th anniversary of that speech, Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission officials joined the Illinois State Board of Education and the Chicago History Museum to urge all school children to take part in a simultaneous reading of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address on his 200th birthday, February 12, 2009.

"I can think of no better way to commemorate Lincoln's birth than to have children across the nation read our 16th President's immortal words together," said Jan Grimes, a member of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which operates the state's Lincoln sites and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The live reading will originate at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, February 12, 2009 from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois and will be carried on a live webcast. Illinois school children in grades 5 and 8 who are in class that day have been encouraged to read the speech aloud at the same time, and all school children in the nation are invited to join in the reading as well. Commemorative posters with the words to the Gettysburg Address will be provided to each Illinois student by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The February 12 Gettysburg Address reading, entitled the Four Score and Seven Project, is generously supported by Chase and The Chicago Community Trust.

Lincoln's Birthday is officially a state holiday; however, schools may be in session on the holiday if they receive approval from the ISBE. Currently, about 93 percent of school districts in Illinois have received that approval, and schools may request a modification for Lincoln's Birthday up to February 6, 2009.

"We feel that having students in class on this year's observation of Lincoln's Birthday will allow them to feel as if they are a part of history," said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. "We know that teaching and learning become more effective when students are engaged and participating in what they're studying. We hope that the activities that day will whet the appetites of future historians.

On February 12, 2009 the Chicago History Museum will kick off its Bicentennial celebration with a day of Lincoln-inspired activities and the opening of the exhibition, Lincoln Treasures, which runs through August 16, 2009. Lincoln Treasures will highlight key artifacts and documents from the Museum's Lincoln collection that will rekindle visitors' emotions and excite memories about the man and his legacy. One of five manuscript copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's own hand, on loan from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, will be on display at the Chicago History Museum during March 2009.

"The Chicago History Museum is proud to partner with the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission in celebrating Lincoln and his contributions to American history. The Bicentennial provides the opportunity for the public to empathize with and to be inspired by the many aspects of Lincoln's life and to understand his legacy," said Gary T. Johnson, Chicago History Museum president.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library today opened a new exhibit entitled The Gettysburg Address featuring 35 pieces of art by famed illustrator Sam Fink. The exhibit may be viewed free of charge in the Library through February 1, 2009. The hand-drawn and hand-lettered illustrations each measure 16 by 23 inches and include an additional piece of art and a chronology of events leading up to the ratification of the 13th Amendment that abolished slavery.

"Lincoln's brief speech reminds Americans that the ideals of equality and freedom are foundational to healthy democratic government. A moving testament to the honored dead, the address also is a challenge to contemplate what was the ultimate cause for their sacrifice," said Illinois State Historian Thomas Schwartz. "Lincoln urges Americans to expand their understanding of American equality through a 'new birth of freedom' for the former enslaved peoples. The Gettysburg Address remains a speech for the ages.

Educational materials concerning Lincoln Bicentennial activities are now available to teachers at In addition, Illinois teachers will now have access to a special curriculum that focuses exclusively on Abraham Lincoln. The Bicentennial Resource Guide covers lessons about the 16th President's life, from his early days in Kentucky and Indiana, to his time in Illinois, his Presidency and assassination. The ISBE is making this special Lincoln curriculum available to teachers in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Education. The lessons, developed by the Indiana Department of Education, align to the Illinois learning standards and teachers can download them at no charge from

The Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission is working closely with numerous organizations, tourism agencies and institutions in 2008 and 2009 to organize events and programming for the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The commission is also partnering with local communities on their bicentennial plans. Visit www. lincoln200. net for more information.


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