The most fortuitous thing happened while I was entertaining an out-of-town friend in Washington, DC yesterday, driving her around to see the cherry blossoms out of the rain. When it was time for lunch we spotted a restaurant at 10th and E Streets and DJ said, ‘Hey, there’s Ford’s Theatre.”
It turned out serendipitous because the National Park Service was hosting an around the clock tribute that day–the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in that very theater.
Dozens dressed in period clothing playing real characters who were at the theatre that fateful night. We talked to this US Army officer who said that he was enjoying the performance of Our American Cousin that evening. It was Good Friday.
During the third act, a shot rang out and he realized that Lincoln had been terribly wounded. He and three other officers carried the president across the street to a boarding house (in orange, pictured behind). They feared he would not survive a trip to hospital and wanting him to be comfortable.
A reporter from the city’s Daily Morning Chronicle was writing in a notebook, seemingly preparing his notes on the terrible incident. Tourists picked up free replicas of the following morning’s April 15th edition featuring the article by Associated Press reporter Lawrence Gobright.
DJ and I felt so fortunate to be on the rainy block of 10th street that day, led by our hunger but satiated in the end by the veneration of American citizens and volunteers there, spurred by the free tours and pride of our own US government’s National Park Service, which runs the historic Ford’s Theatre and The Petersen House across the street where the Army officers had stood guard into the night while the city waited for news.
A banjo player strummed somber tunes from the Civil War era, a war that had ended just five days earlier.
The bloodstained pillow and pillowcases– and the black coat and top hat– on display are the ones used by Lincoln 150 years ago.
(WATCH a video from WJLA below)