When I was a history teacher, many years ago, I used to ask my students trick questions. Really, they were thought provokers.
One example was; why did the armies of the Civil War (and the American Revolution, for that matter) take the winter off?
The answer was pretty simple; nobody wanted to fight a battle in the snow.
As it turns out, this applies to modern times as well.
We go into deep hibernation every winter and, by April, it is time to shed the lethargy and get out more. I got a little ahead of myself last week and went to see the Civil War exhibit at the South Shore Visitors and Convention Authority's Indiana Welcome Center.
There is an awful lot there to see, from exhibits on Abraham Lincoln to local points of interest. Northwest Indiana contributed in many ways through those who volunteered and those who served in the Civil War and came back to contribute to their communities.
I found the display on the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) the most interesting. This organization of Union veterans had a very powerful influence in the decades after the war. It was said many times that nobody could get elected to an office of any substance, particularly on the national level, unless they had the blessing of the GAR. It should be no surprise that from the end of the Civil War until the 1920s, the GAR and the legend of Abraham Lincoln ruled over the land.
Today, you will find Grand Army of the Republic highways and lesser roads along with statues in honor of those who served during the Civil War, mostly commissioned by the GAR. Having said that, I really came to the Welcome Center to see a movie.
Another trick question, who writes history? You give up? It’s simple, the winners. In this case, the movie that was shown last week at the Welcome Center fits nicely into that category.
“Saving Lincoln” is a well-told story of Lincoln’s ascension to the presidency, the incredible strain of the war and the very short-lived elation of ultimate victory. It is a story told through the eyes of Lincoln’s trusted friend and bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. The movie traces the beginnings of their relationship and the way in which Lamon came to see Lincoln’s safety as his main duty.
We would do well to remember that among the thousands of books published on Lincoln and the Civil War, Lamon wrote one of the first major works on Lincoln’s life.
Being a big fan of this subject, I was glad the movie did not dwell on Lincoln's assassination, but treated his demise in an interesting way that allows the viewer to see the impact on those Lincoln left behind. This is a little unusual, because that is an often overlooked part of the aftermath of the Civil War.
Visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, can view the film “Saving Lincoln” in the In-Vision Theater at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday throughout the “Region United, Nation Divided: Following Lincoln” exhibit, which runs through April 30. It's worth the trip.