Four score and four years to the day that President Abraham Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater, Lance Mack was born.
For the past quarter-century, that coincidence has made sense to the Marion, Iowa, man.
Mack, 63, has been presenting himself as Honest Abe at school events, cemetery memorials and other functions because of his strong resemblance to the 16th president of the United States.
He was on hand Saturday at Oakdale Memorial Gardens in Davenport to remember Union Pvt. John Vale, who was a Medal of Honor recipient for his heroic deeds during the Civil War.
“The short version of the story is, I was teaching German at the University of Michigan, and I had a beard,” said the almost 6-foot 6-inch, slender-built Mack. “My wife said if you shave off the mustache, you would look like Abraham Lincoln.”
He did just that and soon the requests began to come for him to portray Lincoln at special events. He moved to Marian, Iowa, many years ago.
“In a good year, I will do about 40 appearances,” he said. “I have done a number of gravesite ceremonies, re-enactments. Monday, for Presidents’ Day, I am going to do a one-day visit to Boston at the John F. Kennedy President Library and Museum.”
Over the years, Mack has studied many speeches from Lincoln and gained more knowledge and respect for him.
“It is never routine,” he said. “I constantly marvel, not only at the power and beauty of Lincoln’s words, but the timelessness of his words. I have collected his words. I study what he wrote and said. I have come to understand a lot more of his humanity and how deeply concerned he was over the future of this country.
“It becomes more and more to me, how humbled he was to be in God’s hands. He once said, ‘I am nothing, but truth is everything.’ I also am so impressed how he was so concerned for the soldiers and their families. It is a high honor and tremendous privilege for me to do this. I get to take on the life of one of the great icons of American and world history.”