One of the most profound landmarks honoring a President that inspires such emotion in so many; President Lincoln was arguably one of the most significant figures in our nation’s history. A legendary statesman who represents “the virtues of tolerance, honesty, and constancy in the human spirit.”
Located on the west end of Washington D.C.’s National Mall, the memorial stands as a neoclassical testament to the 16th President, and is situated on the Reflecting Pool near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Korean War Veterans Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial itself was designed by Henry Bacon, and inspired by ancient Greek temples. It stands 190 feet long, 119 feet wide, and 100 feet tall. Surrounded by ornate fluted Doric columns, there are 36 of them, one for each of the 36 states in the Union at the time of his death.
Inside, there are carved inscriptions of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and the Gettysburg Address. As a focal point, in the central hall there is an impressive statue of Lincoln made of Georgia white marble sitting in contemplation on a pedestal of Tennessee marble. It stands an imposing 19 feet tall and weighs 175 tons.
The memorial was built over a period of years in the early 1900s, and the completed structure was dedicated before more than 50,000 people on May 30, 1922. Lincoln’s only surviving child, Robert Todd Lincoln, was present for the ceremony. It is ironic that despite Lincoln’s “Great Emancipator” reputation, the dedication ceremonies were strictly segregated, as was the practice still at the time.
Important Historical Events
Marian Anderson, the famous African American contralto, was granted permission by the Department of the Interior, with the help of then-first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, to perform at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 after being denied the right to sing at Constitution Hall previously.
But perhaps of most significant importance is that the Lincoln Memorial was the backdrop to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s seminal “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963, in which he spoke on the steps of the Memorial in front of over 200,000 people.
About the Man
Abraham Lincoln is a titan within the fabric the nation’s heritage. From humble beginnings as a poor boy on the frontier, reading books by candlelight after working long hours on the farm, he educated himself about the state of the world. Brought up on a hearty mix of physical labor with a keen intellect, Lincoln used his love for the written word, his strong work ethic, and his ability to speak plainly and directly to people to fast-propel first his legal, then his political career.
As President, Lincoln thought secession illegal, and was willing to use force to defend Federal law and the Union. But the Emancipation Proclamation was probably his greatest achievement that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy in 1863.
His assassination on April 14, 1865 marked a watershed moment in the nation’s history, just as the Civil War was ending.
The Lincoln Memorial is open 24 hour a day; more than seven million people visit it per year.
Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!
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