Mike Bell

     A recent road trip of over 10 hours took me to the annual meeting of the Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg. (I recall those sorts of drives used to be much easier to make!) The Forum gathers every year around the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, and hosts a variety of speakers, exhibits and events to commemorate the events of 1863. This was my first time attending this particular Lincoln event and I will admit to a slight case of nerves. That didn’t last long. As I stood in the registration line, a distinct and familiar voice from behind me warned the staff that I might be trouble . . . it was our own Bill Attick!

Joshua Chamberlain Round Table members Bill Attick and Mike Bell. (Author’s courtesy photo.)

     To quote the great Dean Martin, “Ain’t that a kick in the head?!” We would spend most of the conference listening to the speakers. Bill takes studious notes, so if you want to know what was said, ask him. The speakers ranged from a program on how the war was financed to another on the location of the speaker’s platform from which Lincoln uttered his now famous address. We groaned at the hyperbole and bad jokes. And, of course, shook our heads at the usual suspects who just can’t help themselves while at the microphone from the floor. Bill was also kind enough to introduce me to people he had met at other gatherings.

     I watched Bill network the room . . . so that’s how he gets some of the speakers for our roundtable . . . and I listened closely to his tales of previous meetings of this and similar forums. When I saw him at the first night’s banquet I wondered if there was an unknown part of his life that he had not shared with us. The only folks I know who can get away wearing a sharp looking green jacket like he wore have won the Master’s Tournament. After Bill had departed, I spent a few hours driving around the battlefield, including the sight of the cavalry action on July 3. Of course, I bought more books than I have shelf-space for, but that’s why I drove. It was an insightful conference, but I must say that these sorts of gatherings are always more fun when you have a friend to share with. Thanks Bill!

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