Regional and national organizations are helping promote a Cambridge City appearance by an actor who appears all over the world as Abraham Lincoln.
On Saturday, April 29, Fritz Klein will be part of three free public appearances across Indiana that commemorate the 158th anniversary of Lincoln’s funeral train passing through the state.
Klein’s interpretations of Lincoln have been featured in Time Magazine, the Smithsonian Channel and the History Channel, as well as multiple C-SPAN presentations.
During his Wayne County visit at 3 p.m., Klein will deliver a rendition of Lincoln’s Farewell Address along the same rail bed traversed by Lincoln’s funeral train on April 30, 1865. He also will take questions as part of an “Ask Me Anything” event.
Klein’s appearance will be near the eastern side of Cambridge City Christian Church, 106 W. Church St. (Rain location is inside the church).
Cambridge City residents have been proud of their ties to that significant event.
The site where Klein will appear is just a few blocks west of a mural featuring Lincoln’s funeral train that was painted in 2015 on the Matthias and Kline building at the intersection of Foote Street and U.S. 40.
Artists Pamela Bliss and Carly Mattingly Dee painted that visible reminder of the town’s ties to that historic moment and Lincoln’s legacy in 2015.
The April 29 occasion provides area residents an opportunity to pay tribute to Lincoln and his family after his sudden death and remember his accomplishments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment and Gettysburg Address.
“Of course, this is as close as we can get to the ‘real’ Lincoln, but I’ve seen Mr. Fritz Klein speak as Lincoln, and I can personally attest that this will be as close as you will ever get to witnessing Abraham Lincoln in person,” said Chris Allen, The Lincoln Special’s executive director.
Allen says the mission of The Lincoln Special, a nonprofit recognized by the Internal Revenue Service, is to help lower the temperature of incivility and discourse.
He notes that a recent Harvard Kennedy School poll says 52% of young Americans believe that our democracy is either “in trouble” or “failing.”
“I know our ancestors would have given anything to give their thanks directly to President Lincoln and this is their chance, albeit through us, their descendants,” Allen said. “History has an echo. Our task is to make it heard.”
Klein’s day will start at the Indiana Statehouse, where he will take questions as Lincoln. Afterward, an honorary wreath-laying ceremony is scheduled at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument before he heads to Cambridge City.
Klein’s visit is part of Allen’s ongoing fundraising campaign to make a film he wrote called “Of Tears and Iron.”
More than half the story takes place in Cambridge City, where main characters gather. Ben is a fugitive slave who risks his life to meet up with the funeral train, and the story also features his lifelong friend Samuel. Another major character is Centerville native Oliver P. Morton, who served as Indiana’s governor during the Civil War.
Allen said he believes that film and television are powerful media for communicating thoughts, ideas and stories, and taking the motion picture directly to underserved regions would usher in a renewed sense of optimism and hope for generations to come.
Last fall, Allen said he plans to base the production of “Of Tears and Iron” in the Cambridge City and Richmond areas when filming begins.
Allen has been seeking regional and national support for the endeavor.
He said he’s secured promotional help for the April 29 events from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Foundation, the same foundation that built the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield, Illinois.
Two of the foundation’s honorary directors are news anchor Bill Kurtis and biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin was executive producer of “Abraham Lincoln,” a 2022 docudrama on the History Channel that was based on her book “Leadership in Turbulent Times” that featured four presidents (Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson and the two Roosevelts).
How to give
Funds are sought for an organization planning to make a film called “Of Tears and Iron” that would largely be filmed in Cambridge City and around Wayne County. The Lincoln Special is an IRS-approved nonprofit.
Donations made at www.tearsandiron.com or The Lincoln Special LLC, 17520 Dartown Rd. #942, Westfield, IN 46074-9998 are tax deductible. To learn more, call (317) 967-6190.
A version of this article appeared in the April 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.