By: Dana Gutierrez of Mair, Mair, Spade & Thompson, L.L.C.
Law Day, which is celebrated on May 1st, is a national day set aside to celebrate the rule of law. Law Day underscores how law and the legal process have contributed to the freedoms that all Americans share. Law Day 2009 celebrates the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, with the theme A Legacy of Liberty – Celebrating Lincoln’s Bicentennial. To honor President Lincoln, the Judiciary of Guam, the District Court of Guam and the Guam Bar Association, in sponsorship with the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Guam, Rotary Club of Northern Guam and Rotary Club of Tumon Bay, brought Mr. James Conine, a national award-winning portrayer of Abraham Lincoln, to Guam to celebrate President Lincoln’s continuing Legacy of Liberty. During his visit, Mr. Conine visited various public and private schools on-island, spoke at the Rotary Clubs, and participated in such Law Day activities as the Naturalization Ceremony at the District Court, the State of the Judiciary Address and the Law Day Fair at the Micronesia Mall. Mr. Conine answered some questions about portraying the great President Lincoln:
Q: What made you decide to portray Abraham Lincoln?
A: When my children were growing up, I would grow a beard and go to Boy Scout and Girl Scout functions as Abe. The children would love it and teachers would beg me to come to their schools.
Q: President Lincoln is a continual source of fascination to Americans. Why is that?
A: People are fascinated with Lincoln because of his accomplishments. He was determined to see the Civil War come to an end and for the country to be united into one great nation. Also, he was persistent in seeing that Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, thereby, abolishing slavery.
Q: This year’s Law Day is a celebration of the bicentennial of President Lincoln’s birth. How can we continue to honor President Lincoln’s “legacy of liberty” in our daily lives?
A: We can continue Lincolns’ “Legacy of Liberty” by using him as an example to teach the youth honesty, loyalty, integrity and patriotism.
Q: What is your most memorable experience portraying President Lincoln?
A: One of my most memorable experiences portraying Lincoln was in full costume in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. The German officials escorted me to the head of the lines going through customs, explaining to the cheering crowd (mostly Americans) that I was “THE PRESIDENT.”
Q: President Lincoln practiced law for many years before becoming President. How has your background studying law assisted you in portraying President Lincoln?
A: Except for a couple of Abe’s more well-known and amusing cases, I use very little of his legal practice in my presentations; unless, I am speaking to lawyers.
Q: President Barack Obama looks to President Lincoln as a mentor. What could President Obama learn from President Lincoln?
A: I would suggest to President Obama that he study President Lincoln’s determination to see his objectives fulfilled. For example, when Lincoln was convinced that he wasn’t going to be reelected in 1864, he would not change his stance on seeing the Civil War concluded and the country reunited. Union General William Sherman then conquered Atlanta, Georgia and started his March to the Sea. After this Union victory, public sentiment turned around and President Lincoln was reelected!
Q: This will be your first visit to Guam. What do you know about our island and what are you looking forward to doing while on-island?
A: What little I know about Guam, I have learned in the last few weeks reading its history. I’m really looking forward to seeing your beautiful island; but, first and foremost, I’m looking forward to teaching your students the life of Abraham Lincoln in first person.