IN THIS TEMPLE
AS IN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE
FOR WHOM HE SAVED THE UNION
THE MEMORY OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
IS ENSHRINED FOREVER
Inscription over the statue of Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial
Well, it took long enough. Lincoln had been dead for almost half a century before work finally began on his memorial in Washington, with a dedication ceremony occurring on his birthday in Washington DC a hundred years ago. Plans to memorialize Lincoln in Washington had been mooted about since the time of his death, but in Washington, then and now, nothing moves swiftly. Controversies about cost and just what form the memorial should take had delayed the project for decades. The final plan to erect a Greek styled temple to house a Lincoln statue appalled some Lincoln admirers who thought a log cabin memorial would better suit a man as humble as Lincoln.
The building of the memorial would take eight years, with it being completed and opened to the public on Memorial Day, May 30, 1922.
The dominating feature of the memorial is of course the brooding statue of a seated Lincoln. Sculpted by Charles David French, the statue, standing 19 feet dominates the memorial. Open 24 hours a day and free for all, the memorial is visited by six million visitors a day and has become a symbol of American freedom and union, the causes for which Lincoln lived and died.
During the government shut down of last year the people moved the barricades and stormed the memorial to view it. I suspect Mr. Lincoln would have heartily approved.