Since 1934, the American Legion Department of Illinois and Post 32 in Springfield have paid tribute to 16th President Abraham Lincoln on his birthday, Feb. 12, by hosting a pilgrimage to his tomb.
Lincoln's tomb, located in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, is the second most visited cemetery behind Arlington - a remarkable piece of history American Legion National Commander Jimmie Foster took in during his visit. Lincoln's fame was seen by a number of people who traveled from outside of Illinois for the 77th annual pilgrimage. Aside from Illinois locals and dignitaries, Legionnaires from nine departments traveled to pay respects to Lincoln on his birthday.
"It was very nice and very rewarding to recognize President Lincoln, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it," Foster said. "The American Legion Illinois Department and Post 32 members are very dedicated and they put their heart and soul into this event. It was a powerful ceremony."
The commander spoke inside Lincoln's quaint tomb, describing him as country boy who worked his way up as a lawyer and onto being the 16th president who fought for civil rights. Foster too laid a wreath at the tomb on behalf of The American Legion, while two other wreaths were laid by members of American Legion Auxiliary Post 32 and Sons of The American Legion Post 32.
Before the ceremony came to a close, a moment of silence and remembrance was given in honor of past National Commander John H. Geiger, who dedicated many years toward the Lincoln pilgrimage.