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Published Monday, November 26, 2001, in the Akron Beacon Journal.

Ohioan crosses nation for Lincoln

Yearlong drive follows Lincoln Highway as way to honor president

Associated Press

RAWLINS, WYO.: An Ohio man who drove a fire truck in President George W. Bush's inaugural parade has taken his show on the road to honor Abraham Lincoln.

Craig Harmon of Galion, founder and director of the Lincoln Highway National Museum and Archives, has not chosen just any road, however. He has been driving his adorned, 1964 Maxim truck along the Lincoln Highway, the nation's first transcontinental highway.

The highway, also known as U.S. 30 and Interstate 80, stretches 3,331 miles from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. It runs through Canton and Massillon in Stark County and Wooster in Wayne County.

This month, Harmon has been driving through southern Wyoming, stopping in towns along the way.

``The Lincoln Highway's come of age,'' Harmon said during his Rawlins stop.

In each town where he stops, Harmon raises his fire truck ladder to fly a 10-by-20-foot American flag and a flag commemorating the Lincoln Highway. Since Cheyenne, he has also displayed a Union Pacific flag on the ladder.

In the inaugural parade in January, Harmon's truck carried former Major League Baseball stars Steve Garvey and Johnny Bench, Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton and Miss America 2001 Angela-Perez Baraquio.

Harmon began his road trip in New York last year and plans to be in San Francisco before Christmas. He said he started the trip to celebrate Lincoln, the former president's ideals and the highway.

Harmon wants to make the highway the centerpiece of a Lincoln bicentennial celebration that will take place in 2009.

He also wants to collect 10 million Lincoln pennies to build a 30-ton, 7-foot statue of Lincoln, the nation's 16th president.

The truck carries a log campfire, symbolic of the ``sacred fire of liberty'' borne by Lincoln, Harmon said. The fire also represents the highway's dedication, when bonfires were lighted along its route across the country.

The truck also carries Lincoln Highway signs, as well as a license plate and presidential seal that indicate that Harmon and the truck were in the inaugural parade.

The truck bears 45 firefighter helmets, each one given to Harmon and signed by fire departments along the highway. The Rawlins Fire Department made its contribution Tuesday.

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Updated 8:42 a.m., January 5, 2002

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