WASHINGTON – After my meeting I decided to walk to Chinatown, to an old emporium where I bought a flower pot. From there I walked up to the corner of 10th Street. And there I saw the Ford’s Theatre sign. This is a historic landmark. This is the place where President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, as he was watching a play, on April 14, 1865. I do not know why I felt compelled to turn left and walk towards the theatre’s entrance.
As I got there, there was a guide talking to a group of teenagers: “….The president’s body guard left Lincoln alone in the theatre. He believed he was safe there, and he went drinking in a nearby tavern… Booth knew the play. So he waited until the plot would cause a lot of laughter and noise. At that point he walked into the president’s theatre box and he shot Lincoln with a derringer pistol…”
Yes, we know the rest of the story. As the guide kept talking about what happened after Booth shot Lincoln, I looked across the street at the Petersen House. This is where the dying President was taken. And this is where Lincoln died, only 5 days after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. As I watched the house, I remembered when I last visited it, a few years ago. And there all visitors can see the bed on which Lincoln died.
As the guide kept describing to his young audience Booth’s escape from the theatre, I thought more about President Lincoln’s tragic death, and I was overtaken by a wave of sadness.