October 25, 2012

Witness To Lincoln's Assassination Appeared On 1950s TV

This is one of those things that makes you realize that the past is often not as far away as it seems. Over at the Atlantic, earlier this week they posted a YouTube clip from the TV show I'VE GOT A SECRET showing a 96 year old man from Maryland who was a 5 year old boy in Ford's Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was shot. He vividly remembers John Wilkes Booth jumping to the stage from the Presidential box and was more worried about Booth's condition from the fall than the President, as it was all a bit confusing what was going on. It's amazing that his lifetime spanned the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the civil rights movement.

In a personal vein, I remember a neighbor of ours, an older woman who sometimes babysat me as a kid, who had a painting of a Civil War drummer boy above her fire place. It was actually a painting of her grandfather who was on the field at Gettysburg. Incredible, right? And let's not forget the well-documented stories of the last 3 Civil War widows who were alive until the mid-2000s (one was even collecting a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs).

Though it's easy to think of the Civil War as ancient history, it was a mere 150 years ago that the conflict raged and nearly tore apart the country. Coming next month--Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN, which will look at the president's struggle to end slavery as the war, and his own life, came to an end. Here's the trailer below, with a script by Tony Kushner.

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