It took me a while, but I finally got down to the Westernmost end of the National Mall this weekend to visit the Lincoln Memorial. And what a lovely sunny Fall day it was to go see it.
So, are you all chanting “show me the Lincoln” already? OK, here he is.
I have to say, out of all of the monuments I have visited in DC so far, this one wins in terms of awe. Not only is it HUGE and a really architecturally powerful structure with a magnificent view, it represents so much more. The monument itself encompasses the ideal of unity that Lincoln advocated… the names of the states are carved around the top, and the visitors that come there to see it also show such a cross-section of American society. African Americans, Muslim Americans, Asian Americans, Latin Americans, Americans with awesome thick accents from the south, Americans with organic granola bars and super tans from the West coast, Americans riding segways… the list goes on. All bound together by those grand narratives of the American ideals.
From my very poor knowledge of American history (correct me if I screw up), Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States and led the country through the civil war, managing to hold the states together, and ended slavery. He was also a fantastic speaker, providing many classic quotes on liberty, democracy and rights.
I saw an exhibition all about him at the Smithsonian Museum of American History a couple of months ago, and the story of his life is pretty impressive. A poor kid who grew up cutting wood in a log cabin in Kentucky, mostly self educated, he went all the way to President. The true American Dream, right?
The gaze on the sculpture is powerful. Staring right at the Capitol, right down the National Mall, which is fringed with buildings of knowledge and power, it’s like he is an eternal watchdog over the running of the country he helped collate.
When I was sitting up there with Mr President, admiring the view and pondering all kinds of things, I wondered how those at the Glen Beck rally, who preach nothing but division, could come to this place to vent their idiotic steam. Then I started wondering, does Lincoln’s face look angry? Proud? Concerned? Peeved because the tourists are loud?
What do you think?