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April 19, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich appoints members of Bicentennial Commission to plan for Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday
Commission will lead state planning efforts for Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration

SPRINGFIELD – As the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum celebrates its first anniversary, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced the members of the Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. Created by Executive Order in February, this Commission will lead Illinois’ planning efforts to commemorate the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, scheduled for February 2009.  In addition to statewide constitutional officers and other elected officials, the Commission includes members representing academia, business, the arts, community development, civil rights and historic preservation communities.
“Abraham Lincoln’s humility, perseverance and loyalty to the Union enabled him to guide our country through one of its most turbulent periods in history.  While our entire nation recognizes his contributions to our democracy, Illinois can claim him as one of its own home-grown heroes,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “I know that each member of the Bicentennial Commission will help us honor and preserve Lincoln’s legacy, and plan a memorable celebration of Lincoln’s 200th birthday.”
As 2009 approaches, the Commission will work closely with the Governor’s office, state and local government agencies, members of the Illinois General Assembly, and organizations that are dedicated to commemorating the life of Abraham Lincoln, in order to plan festivities in honor of the bicentennial.  The Commission will submit an annual report to Gov. Blagojevich and the General Assembly, as well as include a list of recommended improvements to Abraham Lincoln commemorative locations. A full listing of the Commission members is below.  The Commission will also work with the national Bicentennial Commission, created by Congress to coordinate celebrations nationwide that include parades, exhibitions and performances.
One year ago, Gov. Blagojevich opened the Presidential Museum with President George W. Bush and a host of dignitaries.  Held in Union Square Park across from the Museum, the dedication concluded two decades of planning and hard work, bringing the public and private life of Abraham Lincoln to the forefront.  In its first year, the ALPLM has attracted more than 600,000 visitors, doubling first year attendance predictions. Visitors have come from every state in the nation and a number of countries around the world. School children make up a significant portion of visitors.
“Our staff and volunteers invested their time, talents and energy into making the museum a world class experience,” said acting Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Thomas F. Schwartz. “Countless people from the four corners of the state, from across the country and from around the world make the trek to visit this unique museum.  With one year behind us, the best is yet to come.”
By any measure, the first year was monumental for the ALPLM.  Attendance numbers aside, the ALPLM is proud of several other accomplishments that helped shape its first year of operation, including two blockbuster exhibits, ‘Blood on the Moon’ and ‘Christmas at the White House.’  With Foundation support, the ALPLM unveiled new programs such as Evenings to Remember, featuring former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson, former Illinois Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, Pulitzer-prize winning author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and acclaimed television journalist Bill Kurtis.  The ALPLM also launched the Jim Edgar Lecture Series, featuring Pulitzer-prize winning historian David McCullough.
Upcoming events include the May 13th debut of ‘Mrs. President: From Martha to Laura,’ the most ambitious temporary exhibit yet.  The exhibit will run through October 29th, and tells the stories of the First Ladies through hundreds of items, including original gowns, historical artifacts, White House furnishings, intimate letters and revealing video.
Today’s announcement of Commission members was followed by their inaugural meeting, and is only one part of the larger celebration in honor of the Museum’s first anniversary.  Along with a Lincoln impersonator and a band playing Civil War songs, visitors enjoyed a retrospective art exhibit in Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic, the area for children, as well as free birthday cake in the Atrium.  This evening, the Library will host Milestones, a panel discussion featuring the perspective of three experts in different fields as they look back on the Museum’s first year of operation. ComEd President Barry Mitchell also announced an additional $1 million dollar donation to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation, bringing their total contribution to $2 million. ComEd and Exelon, of which ComEd is a unit, will have their names placed on the Union Theater sign in honor of their generosity.
The members of the Bicentennial Commission announced by Gov. Blagojevich today are:
  • David Bahlman - Executive Director, Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois
  • Terry Barnhart - History Department, Eastern Illinois University
  • Jerry Blakemore - General Counsel, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  • Edward Carroll - Department of History, Heartland Community College
  • Rodney O. Davis - Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College
  • Richard Hart – Abraham Lincoln Association
  • John Hoffmann – Illinois Historical Survey, University of Illinois
  • Richard J. Jasculca – Chairman & CEO, Jasculca/Terman & Associates
  • Gary T. Johnson – President, Chicago History Museum
  • Ron Keller – Curator, Lincoln College Museum
  • Marilyn Kushak – Chair, Springfield Readiness Committee
  • Shirley Madigan – Chair, Illinois Arts Council
  • Allison Payne – Anchor/Reporter, WGN-TV
  • Graham Peck – Assistant Professor of History, St. Xavier University
  • Shirley Portwood – Dept. of History, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
  • Jerry Roper - President & CEO, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
  • James Sanders – Superintendent, Lincoln Home National Historic Site
  • Nicky Stratton – Director, Looking for Lincoln
  • Axel Steuer – President, Illinois College
  • Cherryl Thomas - Ardmore Associates
  • Kristina Valaitis - Executive Director, Illinois Humanities Council
  • Andy Van Meter – President, Sangamon County Board
  • Douglas Wilson - Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College

·        Terri Jackson, Diversity Director, University of Illinois-Springfield

  • Sundiata Cha-Jua – African American Studies, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Julie Cellini – Chair, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Board of Trustees
  • Pamela A. Daniels – Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
  • J. Douglas Donenfeld – Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
  • Edward M. Genson – Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
  • Laurie Hoffman – Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
  • Elizabeth Smith – Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
·        Roger Taylor – President, Knox College & Trustee, IHPA Board of Trustees
  • Thomas F. Schwartz – Acting Executive Director & State Historian, ALPLM
  • Robert J. Coomer – Director, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
  • Paula Cross – Superintendent of Historic Sites, IHPA
  • Julie Dirksen – Director of Guest Services, ALPLM
  • Phil Funkenbusch - Program Director, ALPLM
  • Susan Mogerman – COO, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Foundation
  • Richard Norton Smith - Abraham Lincoln Presidential Foundation
  • Jan Kostner – Director, Illinois Bureau of Tourism
Ex-officio members:
  • Governor Rod R. Blagojevich
  • Lt. Governor Patrick Quinn
  • Secretary of State Jesse White
  • Attorney General Lisa Madigan
  • Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka
  • Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes
  • U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin
  • U.S. Sen. Barack Obama
  • U.S. Rep. Dennis J. Hastert, Speaker of the House
  • U.S. Rep. Melissa Bean
  • U.S. Rep. Jerry F. Costello
  • U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis
  • U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel
  • U.S. Rep. Lane Evans
  • U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez
  • U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde
  • U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
  • U.S. Rep. Timothy Johnson
  • U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert
  • U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood
  • U.S. Rep. Mark S. Kirk
  • U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski
  • U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo
  • U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush
  • U.S. Rep. Janice Schakowsky
  • U.S. Rep. John Shimkus
  • U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller
  • State Sen. Emil Jones, Jr., President of the Senate
  • State Rep. Michael J. Madigan, Speaker of the House
  • State Sen. Frank Watson, Senate Minority Leader
  • State Rep. Tom Cross, House Minority Leader
  • Mayor Richard M. Daley – City of Chicago
Mayor Tim Davlin – City of Springfield


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