First Lady Laura Bush listens to Frank Milligan, executive director of President Lincoln's Cottage, on her 2007 tour of the house.
On this chilly November morning, a white yellow sunlight raked the farmland and light industrial parks that skirt Hodgenville, Kentucky, a small town one hour south of Louisville and the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln. Everyone was abuzz because First Lady Laura Bush was visiting to kick-off the "Give a Lincoln for Lincoln" program, developed by the History Channel to benefit six sites associated with the 16th president. "Give a Lincoln for Lincoln" permits people around the country to donate "Lincolns" (pennies and five dollars bills) to help preserve the sites, which includes President Lincoln's Cottage, the National Trust Historic Site in Washington, D.C.
As state and local officials, preservationists and citizens, and dozens of students from nearby Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, gathered at the birthplace, National Park Service employees with leafblowers battled wind gusts as they tried to clear the parking lot, sidewalks and lawn of leaves. In the visitors center, some students colored "Give a Lincoln for Lincoln" collection boxes, while others heard about the president's life from a Lincoln reenactor. Mrs. Bush and Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, arrived at 10:30 in a grey Suburban, and spent the next thirty minutes getting demonstrations on wood splitting, flax spinning, and touring the visitors center. Shortly after 11AM, Mrs. Bush, Secretary Kempthorne, Libby O'Connell, and Park Service officials descended the steep staircase from the Greco-Roman Memorial Building, adjacent to the visitors center, that houses what may be Lincoln's boyhood home, and individually addressed the crowd about Lincoln's importance, the need to preserve sites associates with the former president, and how every "Give a Lincoln for Lincoln" donation will assist in that goal. By 11:45 the event was over -- the First Lady was headed for Fort Knox and her flight back to Washington, and the remaining guests headed for the visitors center to thaw. The atmosphere in the room was celebratory. Now it was time, some said, to get some biscuits and gravy.
-Nord Wennerstrom, Director of Communications, National Trust for Historic Preservation
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