By Karen Needles
Friday, February 10, 2023
The above is my favorite picture of Michael. He had this taken right after our Second Inaugural event in 2015. Michael, of course, had portrayed Lincoln that day – taking the oath of office, repeating the iconic words of the Second Inaugural Address, being Lincoln. Truly, that was a memorable day for the Lincoln Group of DC and for all who attended the event.
Later, after the official ceremony, the Memorial was cleared of visitors for a “photo op.” This was just one of the resulting images. Michael sent me the photo as a remembrance of the day. I will long cherish the photograph as well as the memory of that day and of Michael’s performance. Michael, in every way, was our Lincoln. He represented, through our organization, our 16th President to both children and adults. He reached out to and made connections with people of all ages.
That was not the only visit by Michael to the Lincoln Memorial that I will remember. One year he was in town for a Lincoln’s birthday event and we made a visit to the Memorial – to view the annual wreath-laying ceremony. Michael was dressed casually in jeans and a coat, certainly not in the garb of the Great Emancipator. I will never forget the hush that came over the crowd gathered for the ceremony when Michael came in and took a seat. Jaws dropped as people saw that "Lincoln" had arrived for the ceremony
But that was always the response with Michael, wherever he went. This was the response at our Capitol Hill 1st Inaugural event, where Civil War reenactors volunteered to stand guard for the President elect between the columns inside the auditorium. This was the response reflected in the faces of the children's chorus at the Willard Hotel as they sang “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” for Lincoln. All had the urge to talk with him and get their picture taken with him, whether at the Lincoln Memorial, the Willard Hotel or at a chance meeting somewhere in between. He simply was Lincoln to so many.
Michael and I were prepared to get together on the 22nd of this month for his performance in “Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: A Walk to Respect.” He was so excited about returning to Washington and having the play – to which he had contributed so much - performed at the Kennedy Center. A dream come true. Sadly, that was not meant to be.
I truly loved Michael Krebs. He enriched and touched every single one of us. He brought us closer to Lincoln. Now I imagine that he and Abe are having great discussions, about government and personalities, past and present.
These thoughts are for you, Michael, with love and devotion, Thank you for all you have given us and all you have taught us about Lincoln. We will never forget.
--- Karen Needles
Former President of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia
Photo, courtesy of Karen Needles, as gifted to her by Michael Krebs