4. Why I Love My Job

Why I Love My Job Sunday, February 17, 2002 Homer S. Sewell III, aka Abraham Lincoln, Jasper AGE: 58

WHAT I DO: I visit schools, companies, civic groups, Masonic groups, Scout troops and churches in my role as Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. I've been working as Abe for the last 27 years. I've been to 46 states, met more than 2 million people and done more than 2,100 speaking engagements. There are more than 100 Abe presenters nationwide, but I'm the only one who's ever worked at the White House. I've performed at Ford's Theatre and Mount Rushmore several times. I try to motivate and inspire people and tell them never to give up. He never did, in spite of all his failures. When I'm speaking to young people, I make them promise me they'll say no to drugs, alcohol, tobacco and youth violence. I got The Lincoln of the Year award from The Association of Lincoln Presenters in 1999. I've been nominated for 2001. I'll find out if I've won in April. When I'm not working as the president, I am the official greeter at Home Depot in Canton.

HOW I GOT STARTED: I started in October 1975. I was going to schools in Orlando to talk to the students about what I had done at the White House. I worked for Lady Bird, Lucy Bird, Linda Bird and Big Bird.I worked for the White House Communications Agency during President Lyndon B. Johnson's term. I worked as a switchboard operator for the president, first family in residence and anywhere they traveled. I received a presidential seal pin I wear on my suit when I'm portraying Abe Lincoln. The seal was given to me by President Johnson. Around the time I was visiting the schools, I started growing a beard, and the school children started calling me Abe. They noticed [my resemblance to Lincoln] before I did, and I've been at it ever since.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT ABE: A little girl named Grace Bedell from New York wrote to Lincoln and told him he would look more handsome if he grew some whiskers. The most interesting thing I've found out about him was his last words. It was at Ford's Theatre, right before his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, stepped in. He reached over to touch his wife Mary's hand, and she was a little concerned about the public display of affection, and she asked him: "Father, what will people think?" His answer to her: "It doesn't really matter."

BEST PART OF MY JOB: Inspiring people of all ages. Encouraging them to do better and bigger things with their lives.

FAVORITE PRESIDENT: Lincoln, naturally. There's so much to look up to, the things he did, the dreams and aspirations he had and what he did for our country. I get inspired by the fact I look so much like him.

MOST CHALLENGING PART: Being on my toes and trying to have all the answers. I've got more than 200 books in my library on Lincoln and The Civil War.

WHAT KEEPS ME GOING: One of the quotes I live by from Abe himself is this: "I am not afraid to die, and in fact would be more than willing, but I have an irresistible desire to live until I can be assured that the world is a little better from my having lived in it." I try to live by that.