Friday, May 30, 2008

Today In History; Lincoln Memorial Is Dedicated

1922: The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one of the most visited memorials in the United States. That's due in part to its dramatic architecture by Henry Bacon. Based on a Greek temple, the memorial is 99 feet tall and includes 36 doric columns that symbolize the number of states in the Union at the time of President Abraham Lincoln's death (1865). Inside, a 19-foot sculpture of Lincoln seated on a throne (by Daniel Chester French) greets visitors. Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address is engraved in the south wall; above it is a mural of the "Angel of Truth" freeing a slave.

Lincoln, beloved as the emancipator of slaves and protector of the Republic, has become a symbol of leadership and freedom for Americans. Because of the special place Lincoln holds in people's hearts, the Lincoln Memorial is often chosen for political speeches. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the memorial in 1963.

Ironically, at the dedication of the memorial in 1922, Tuskegee Institute president Robert Moton, a black lawyer and educator, gave an eloquent speech, but was not given a seat beside the other speakers on the platform. He sat in the segregated "Negro" section.

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