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President Lincoln's Illinois funeral recreated on 150th anniversary

"Being from Springfield, Lincoln is just a big part of our lives,” resident Noah Vaughn, who took his wife and two young daughters to Saturday's event, said.

By Doug G. Ware

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 2 (UPI) -- A full recreation of President Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession in Illinois was staged in Illinois Saturday to kick off a weekend of remembrance for the nation's 16th commander in-chief.

Hundreds retraced the route in Springfield on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's burial. The event, complete with period costumes, a flag-draped casket and replica funeral car, ultimately led to the old state capitol building where Lincoln lay in state in 1865.

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In the procession, ranks of soldiers wearing Union blue joined pallbearers -- who themselves were descendants of the actual pallbearers at Lincoln's funeral on May 3, 1865.

"We really need to take the time to recognize a man who was so important to the country. But I think that as we do that, we need to remember what he stood for," Edna Greene Medford, professor and chair of history at Howard University, said. "We need to be trying to implement some of those things. If we are just doing this as a hollow celebration, I think it's a useless thing."

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Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 as he sat in the presidential box at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. He was carried across the street to a residence, known as the Petersen House, where he died the following day. Both the theater and residence still exist in their exact states from 1865 and are historical points of interest in Washington.

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Also included in the recreation was a replica of the silver coffin that carried Lincoln's body on a 1,600-mile trip by train from Washington to Springfield.

"A Grafton woodworker, Richard Mosby, built [the casket] to our specifications, which were the result of considerable research," Tim Tomlinson, chairman of the Great Rivers Lincoln Coffin Project, said in a report by Springfield's State Journal-Register.

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"Being from Springfield, Lincoln is just a big part of our lives," resident Noah Vaughn, who took his wife and young daughters to the reenactment, said. "This is about his legacy and honoring everything he meant to our country and what he means to Springfield."

Festivities and exhibits will continue through the weekend. Sunday, a recreation of Lincoln's burial at the city's historic Oak Ridge cemetery will take place.

Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth, a staunch supporter of the Confederate cause, who himself was later cornered and killed by authorities 12 days later.

Eight co-conspirators were also tried and convicted for their involvement in a massive conspiracy to kill Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Four were executed -- including Mary Surratt, the first woman ever put to death by the U.S. government -- and the remaining four received prison terms.

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