Monday, July 28, 2008

Day 7 in the Midwest - Deathday and/or the 4th of July

Day 7 was Friday, the 4th of July and we had big plans for celebrating our nation's birthday. My parents were working in the temple, so we were on our own for most of the day. First on our schedule was a trip to Springfield, the Land of Lincoln. Springfield is a two hour drive from Nauvoo through fields and fields of corn. I think we actually saw more cornfields driving to Springfield than driving through Iowa. The drive was uneventful, as most drives through the land of corn are. But, we arrived in Springfield safe and sound and our first stop was Lincoln's tomb. Unfortunately, they're doing a lot of construction around the tomb (I'm guessing to prepare for the Bicentennial of his birth next year), so we couldn't go up on top and it was tough to get a good picture (notice the big orange cone in the picture we did get). However, it was really neat to go inside the tomb and walk through the burial chamber. I know it sounds a bit morbid, but it was actually pretty neat. I think they've done a great job creating an environment of respect and honor to one of our nation's greatest presidents and there was a definite feeling of reverence inside.

Lincoln's Tomb

After the tomb, we headed over to Lincoln's home. The house has been restored to look much like it did when Lincoln lived in it in 1860, the year he was elected president. The tour through the home was free and it was really interesting to see the differences in the way the Lincolns lived compared to how many of the saints in Nauvoo lived. We paused outside the home for a patriotic picture (none of us had red, white, and blue on individually, so we made our patriotism a combined effort).

Red, Blue, and White in front of Lincoln's Home. Happy 4th of July!

When we finished our tour of the Lincoln home, it was off to the Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library. The Museum was pretty cool and jam-packed with information on the life of President Lincoln. At first, I was reading everything they had in all of the displays, but soon it was getting to be too much information, so I started skim-reading and breezing through the displays a little faster. When we finished, we stopped in the museum gift shop where I found a sweet Christmas ornament. It's President Lincoln in the form of a Nutcracker!

Jared poses with President Lincoln outside the museum

Hello Mr. Lincoln!

With our heads filled with Abraham Lincoln lore and history, it was time to head back for 4th of July activities. My parents were going to finish at the temple early and meet us for fireworks. However, Nauvoo doesn't have any fireworks shows, so we decided to meet them in Carthage (about 20 minutes from Nauvoo) on our way back to watch them there. Our plan was to meet for dinner, then head over to Carthage Jail for the tour there, and then head over to Carthage High School for the fireworks show. Amy's one request was that we have Barbecue on the 4th of July. So, on our way back from Springfield, we tried our best to find someplace to get Barbecue for dinner. We googled bbq places in Carthage and in towns along the way. I think we found two possibilities. We called those fine dining establishments only to find they were closed for the 4th of July. Undaunted, we decided we could have my parents bring us some bbq pulled pork that is sold in the grocery store in Nauvoo (we had previously had it for lunch one day and decided it was pretty tasty). But, it had closed by the time they got there. Not to worry. My mom informed us that the Dairy Queen in Carthage had bbq pork sandwiches on its menu. Hurray! Amy could have her Barbecue! Imagine our surprise when she ended up ordering a hamburger! Oh well, our best efforts at having some tasty 4th of July bbq having failed, we enjoyed our Dairy Queen and then headed over to Carthage Jail.

Touring Carthage Jail ended up being, for me, a much more emotional activity than I thought it would. I had been to Carthage jail before and I had been on the tour. I was small, but had a decent memory of the experience. I thought that having seen it all before, it would have less of an impact on me. I was wrong. Maybe it was because I more fully understand the significance of what happened there now. Or maybe it was because we had just spent a week in Nauvoo, walking where the prophet Joseph walked and hearing stories of others' experiences with the prophet. Maybe it's because there was a sort of poetic contrast in visiting the sites honoring Abraham Lincoln who fought so hard for freedom in this country and in visiting the site where Joseph Smith was stripped of his freedom and killed. Whatever the reason, it was a very emotional experience to sit in Carthage jail and listen to the retelling of the events of the martyrdom of the prophet. I had a very different feeling from the one I had while visiting Lincoln's tomb and am grateful for the progress our country has made in offering freedom to all. It was a fitting end to our time in Nauvoo.

Jared and I with my parents at Carthage Jail

After our tour of Carthage jail, we headed over to the high school for a small midwest town's version of 4th of July fireworks. They set them off right over the cornfield next to the high school and they shot them off one at a time. They would set one off, wait until all of the sparks had fallen, and then set off the next one. Every time they shot one off, we would wait as it fell, thinking it was the last one and then they would shoot another one. The fireworks show lasted 40 minutes! It was sweet! After the fireworks were over, we headed back to Nauvoo, catching glimpses of fireworks shows up and down the Mississippi River as we drove. As we drove back and I thought about the day's events and activities, I concluded that this was a 4th of July that I will never forget.


Kristina said...

Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all about your adventures. You got me excited about someday taking a trip to Nauvoo.

Andrea said...

Sounds like an awesome trip.