A tall, bearded man with a black top hat was spotted in the Rayburn House Office Building on Thursday morning, sharing the secrets of the presidency with a group of local kindergartners.
Michael Shank, communications director for Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), dressed up as President Abraham Lincoln for a special presentation to a kindergarten class from Oyster Elementary School. (The kids have a connection on Capitol Hill — one of the students is the daughter of Honda Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide.)
Shank, donning a Lincoln-esque black beard, tuxedo with a period tie, black cape and that trademark top hat, walked into a committee room in Rayburn, asking the kids where he was. The students immediately recognized him as Lincoln, and Shank, err, Lincoln replied that he must have traveled in time.
Lincoln explained that he came from March 4, 1865, the day of his second inaugural address.
He then asked the kids to help him write the speech, with suggestions coming from the audience including, “Slavery is not good.” He eventually came up with what would be the most famous line from the speech — “With malice toward none, with charity for all” — and asked them to repeat it.
The kids were pretty darn impressive in their knowledge about Lincoln. When the pretend commander in chief asked what number president he was, several shouted, “16.” And when he asked why the Civil War was fought, one student calmly replied, “The South wanted slaves, and the North wanted freedom.”
After his talk, Lincoln signed autographs for each of the students and gave them a copy of the address.
HOH has to admit Shank’s performance was impressive — he even spoke with an accent that sounded like what we think Lincoln sounded like — but he didn’t fool everyone. Van der Heide’s daughter, Zara, raised her hand at one point and said, “I know who you really are.”
And when Lincoln told the class that in a month he would be shot and killed, another student replied, “Wait, so you know you are going to get shot?”
Ah, kids. They say the darndest things.
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