The 49th Convocation and Investiture of the Lincoln Academy of Illinois will be April 13, 2013, at Augustana College's Centennial Hall in Rock Island.|
The 7 p.m. ceremony awarding the state's highest individual honor will be in the Quad-Cities for the first time since 1973, when the Moline-based world headquarters of Deere & Co. was host. The 2013 event will be co-hosted by Dr. Steven and Jane Bahls, representing Augustana College, and Samuel and Marsha Allen, representing Deere & Co.
The Lincoln Academy was established in 1964, shortly after the New York World's Fair. During the World's Fair, a reception for some of Illinois' favorite sons and daughters impressed Illinois Gov. Otto Kerner Jr., and led to the establishment of the Order of Lincoln, the state's highest award for individual achievement. It is conferred upon the laureates at the annual convocation at which the laureate receives the Badge of the Academy with a citation outlining the reasons for his or her selection as a laureate.
The first investiture of laureates was held in 1965 on Abraham Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12; the event has been held in locations across the state every year since.
"Last spring, Thomas S. Johnson, of Rockford, a Lincoln Academy regent, had an opportunity to visit Augustana's Wallenberg Hall,'' said Kai Swanson, assistant to Dr. Bahls at Augustana College and local liaison to the Lincoln Academy for the 2013 event. "He marveled at the facility, calling it one of the best and neatest rooms in the state. He said it would be a great place to hold a reception. Things, as they say, took off from there. And there will be a reception at Wallenberg Hall following the ceremony at Centennial Hall.''
Mr. Swanson said landing the Lincoln Academy event is a feather in the Quad-Cities' cap. "This is the state's highest individual honor,'' Mr. Swanson said. "And the last time it was held in our area was 1973. It says something about our community being selected as the site to hold such a prestigious celebration.''
The convocation at Centennial Hall will be open to the public, said Mr. Swanson. "That was one of the goals when the project took hold -- to give those interested an opportunity to be part of something so special.''
Previous Lincoln Academy of Illinois honorees include Mahalia Jackson, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, Adlai Stevenson, Everett McKinley Dirksen, Walter Payton, Ernie Banks, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, George Halas, James R. Thompson, Jim Edgar, William H. (Bill) Kurtis, Marshall Field, Sid Luckman, Louis "Studs'' Terkell, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Paul Simon and Alan J. Dixon.
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