I enjoy visiting presidential libraries and have a quest to see all of them. So far, I have visited the following libraries.
- Lyndon Baines Johnson – Austin, TX
- George H. W. Bush – College Station, TX
- Bill Clinton – Little Rock, AR
- John F. Kennedy – Boston, MA
- Ronald Reagen – Simi Valley, CA
- Harry Truman – Independence, MO
- Abraham Lincoln – Springfield, IL
The last two on the list were added as part of my recent Mid-America trip. I was planning to visit the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene, KS, but we ran out of time. I am a long term admirer and student of Abraham Lincoln. Visiting the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was a top priority.
The Library is located in Springfield, the capital of Illinois. Springfield is a delightful town focused on state government and the life of Abraham Lincoln. The Library is in the center of Springfield. The museum portion of the Library is divided into different periods of Lincoln’s life. The museum is well done and contains many artifacts. They recently added a long-missing Lincoln Bible to the collection. I missed seeing this Bible as it was displayed right after my visit. The museum was great but slightly over-marketed. Springfield leans heavily on Lincoln’s legacy to promote tourism. Fortunately, it is hard to overstate Lincoln the man or his accomplishments.
The other key attraction in Springfield is Lincoln’s home. This is the only home Lincoln ever owned. The National Park Service maintains the house in pristine condition. The Park Service offers a free tour of the Lincoln home. My favorite part about Lincon’s home is it contains most of the original furnishings. I believe only the carpet and drapes have been replaced. It was as if Lincoln still lived there. While the Presidential Library was lovely, the Lincoln home is a must-see when visiting Springfield.
Our next stop, well aside from going to a Royals game, was to visit the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. Independence is a small town right next to Kansas City. As you might expect, the town focuses on its favorite son, Harry Truman. I have always admired Harry Truman as “every person’s president.” While assuming the office of president due to Roosevelt’s passing, Truman proved to be more than a match for the job. The museum does a great job of telling the Truman story. I came away with the thought that Truman faced many difficult circumstances during his time in office.
One final note about Kansas City. I have heard Kansas City is known for its particular brand of BBQ. Being from Texas, I was skeptical that any other BBQ offering could match the product from my home state. Well, putting my state pride aside, I was wrong. If you visit Kansas City, you must visit Joe’s BBQ. The pulled pork was amazing. It is sort of a hole in the wall place inside a gas station. You will have to wait in line for a while but trust me; it is well worth it.
This is my last article from my Mid-America Tour. I just returned from Peru, so my next few entries will focus on this amazing country.
Make the most of this day!