Bicentennial smoke clears

Yesterday wasn’t what I expected.  I’m a huge history buff, I used to do curatorial work in a Lincoln collection, and I teach at a college named for him.  It should have been a big deal for me. 

Strangely, though, it wasn’t.  I woke up, taught a class, read, and went out for some seafood and a movie.  It was, in truth, one of the least Lincoln-saturated days of my life.  Feeling a little guilty that I didn’t celebrate with gusto, I decided to see how some of the more prominent history bloggers spent their bicentennial. 

Samuel P. Wheeler was probably the busiest, heading to the Empire State for a whirlwind speaking tour.  Kevin Levin indulged in snacks, games, and vintage Lincoln films.  “Bah!  Humbug!” muttered Dimitri Rotov at Civil War Bookshelf as he snuffed out the light on Bicentennial Eve.  Successive visits by the Ghosts of Centennial Past, Bicentennial Present, and Sesquicentennial Yet to Come left him unmoved.

I think the main reason I didn’t make an effort to party hard was plain and simple burnout.  The history community has been up to its armpits in Lincoln for quite a while now, getting ready for the big day that technically kicked off a whole year ago.  It was like seeing a shopping mall decked out with Christmas decorations in the middle of October.  By the time December 25 finally rolls around, you’re a little numb to it.

So yesterday I felt like a kid who’s finished opening his gifts on Christmas morning—all that anticipation, and then after a few frenzied seconds it’s over, and you remember that it’s back to school in a few days.

Still, as long as it meant more than the presents and decorations, it was well worth celebrating.

(Image from the Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana)

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, History and Memory, History on the Web

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