GLENDALE : Actors Bring Presidents Alive for Students

More than 4,000 schoolchildren from throughout Los Angeles got a taste of living history in Glendale as actors impersonating George Washington and Abraham Lincoln met with the youngsters Thursday and Friday to offer a more personal overview of American history for the Presidents' Day weekend.

Grant Owens, a professional actor who was dressed as Washington, recounted how the United States gained its independence by explaining the 25 events depicted in a giant mural at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, the largest historical mural in the world, according to Owens.

"I like to show that they were real flesh-and-blood men and women," Owens said.

"When we think about great moments in history we tend to overlook what really happened.

"Like the signing of the Declaration of Independence--that took a lot of courage," he said.

The man who portrayed Lincoln is H. M. Wammack, a life insurance agent who has been participating in Forest Lawn's Presidents' Day celebration for eight years now.

Wammack offered a 20-minute first-person narrative about the Gettysburg Address as he stood at the foot of a statue and mural of Lincoln. Wammack told his audience that Lincoln did not consider it a very good speech when he wrote it.

Brett Arend, 9, a student at the 32nd Street magnet school at the USC, said it was the first time he had ever heard the famous address.

"Lincoln gave a great speech," Brett said.

One batch of fifth-graders from Dorris Place Elementary School in Los Angeles brought clipboards to take notes on what they learned.

Their teacher, Terry Diddy, said the students had been assigned to copy down 10 facts and 10 things they saw that day to put in a four-page report about Presidents' Day.

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