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Close calls. Brushes with death. A nation locked in bitter struggle for its very identity, and one man whose shoulders bore the weight of tens of thousands of lives.
It sounds like a Hollywood drama, but it’s really the story of central Kentucky’s favorite son: Abraham Lincoln. And this weekend, a U.S. Army veteran and constitutional scholar will be on hand to bring that story to life in Hodgenville.
Retired Major Gen. Robert S. Silverthorn Jr. is the featured speaker at the annual Lincoln Days Luncheon at noon Saturday at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School.
Silverthorn, whose active and reserve Army service total 38 years, plans to illuminate points of The Great Emancipator’s life that aren’t usually included in the highlight reel.
“Lincoln had a very interesting life,” Silverthorn said. “In fact, on two or three occasions he did things or was involved in things that could have ended his life. Fate oftentimes leads us down paths that lead to important decisions.”
To illustrate that point, Silverthorn recalls a story of Lincoln’s father, Thomas, before Abraham’s birth.
“Abraham’s grandfather (also named Abraham) was killed in an Indian attack, and his father Tom was kneeling over the body when an Indian came to put a hatchet in Tom’s skull,” Silverthorn said. “Tom’s older brother got off a lucky shot and killed the Indian. If the Indian had killed Tom, there wouldn’t be an Abraham Lincoln No. 2.”
Silverthorn plans to discuss topics such as Lincoln’s militia service as an elected captain in the Blackhawk wars and his young life up to his election into the House of Representatives. To supplement that, he will tie Lincoln into his own schooling and genealogy: Silverthorn’s great grandfather served in the Civil War, arriving on the second day of the Battle of Antietem. The Union victory there, Silverthorn said, is what prompted Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Hopefully it’ll be an interesting presentation,” Silverthorn said. “After 150 years of people memorializing the 16th president, what’s left to say? It’s a challenge to rise to the occasion and it certainly is a humbling request.”
Travis Reynolds can be reached at (270) 505-1748 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
This year’s Lincoln Days Luncheon is at noon Saturday at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, 2101 Lincoln Farm Road, Hodgenville. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Lincoln Museum, 66 Lincoln Square, Hodgenville. For information, call Iris LaRue at (270) 558-3163 or e-mail email@example.com.