Sunday, March 23, 2014

Walking with Abe

Grad students don't get a Spring Break, it's not a paid holiday. The best they can get is a Spring Break weekend. With that in mind, we drove down to Springfield for a quick day at the political center of the great State of Illinois, of which, for tax purposes only, I have become a resident. For most International students at the U of I, the de facto tourist destination is Chicago, with all its glitzy buildings, deep dish pizza, jazz and alcohol. It takes a particularly geeky bunch to travel southwards instead, to the City of Lincoln, to re-live the American Civil War.

Springfield, in popular folklore, is characterized as a city of politicians and bureaucrats. In reality, it is a city of history - a strategic garrison during the Civil War, which served Command-in-Chief and local hero Abraham Lincoln well. But more than war, the city continues to represent what Abe stood for: the freedom of all of mankind, irrespective of color. It was not the Civil War itself that was discussed - although the famous Battle of Gettysburg was given its due place - but why it was fought and how that remains relevant today: so that Government by the people, of the people and for the people does not perish from the face of the earth (The Gettysburg Address).

But it's not the Lincoln Museum alone that attracts visitors: the beautiful State Capitol as well as its predecessor, the Old State Capitol, are a marvel for architects and Civil Engineers alike. And talking of Civil Engineers, a quick visit to the HQ of the Illinois DOT was a necessary visit, making us possibly the first 'tourists' to the attractive building! Combined with some delicious and reasonably-priced Italian food and a map to help navigate the myriad of one-ways in the city and you have a perfect day with a bunch of great people.

Quite appropriately, in line with weather model solutions, the evening brought with it cold southerly winds from Lake Michigan, signaling the coming cold front in response to Spring Break! And so, just as the good weather, so ends my break. Tomorrow, it's back to work as usual. 

No comments: