Students at Jackson Township Elementary had the special privilege of sharing breakfast with President Abraham Lincoln Tuesday morning in the school cafeteria. He laid out "White House China" and talked to the children while they ate before giving two presentations in the gymnasium. One was for Kindergarten through second graders and one for third through fifth graders. He also had a "town meeting" with the fifth graders, during which students took on Civil War period roles and were encouraged to ask questions.
Fritz Klein travels to various schools, national parks, Civil War re-enactments and portrays Lincoln in an attempt to get "everybody interested" in learning about history. He feels like education in this area is "very important because everything we do in life is based on history." He added that when one nation conquers another, they often try to "erase" their past in order to defeat them.
Klein first began this career about 27 years ago. He says he started simply because he looks like Lincoln. Then he got asked to do it more and more and the thought occurred to him to become a full-time Lincoln. He was not sure he wanted to or that he could do so and keep his family intact, but he feels like they are "all quite accustomed to it now."
He has done it "way longer than (he) planned," and he sometimes wonders, "do I still want to do this?" He admits that his lifestyle is a little "crazy," but he likes people and he enjoys "having the chance to say something that might stick."
He currently lives with his family in Lincoln's hometown, Springfield, Ill., where he does a great deal of his work, but he also spends a lot of time on the road. More information is available at www.LincolnInstitute.com.
"Mr. Lincoln" can be contacted by letter at Lincoln Institute for Education, Inc., 1519 Homewood Ave., Springfield, IL 62704; e-mail at Klein@LincolnInstitute.com; phone at (217) 787-1861 or 1-800-RING-ABE; or fax at (217) 787-1861.