RSS Feed (xml)

Powered By

Skin Design:
Free Blogger Skins

Powered by Blogger

Friday, February 13, 2009

Obama, Congress honor Lincoln's 200th birthday

Barbara Ferguson, Arab News

WASHINGTON: From Capitol Hill to Springfield, Illinois, President Obama and Congress are paying tribute to Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of his birth.

"It is an honor to be here: a place where Lincoln served, was inaugurated, and where the nation he saved bid him a last farewell," Obama said in speech at the Capitol yesterday.

"As we mark the bicentennial of our 16th president's birth, ...I feel a special gratitude to this singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible - and who in so many ways made America's story possible."

In the last couple of years, several best-selling books have focused on the life and political skills of the nation's 16th president.

And, it is a well known fact that the nation's newest president has taken a particular interest in not just reading about the Illinois politician, but also modeling himself politically after him.

White House officials say Obama's speechwriter even had several conversations with political historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote the 2005 book "Team of Rivals," which focused on Lincoln's Cabinet -- before crafting his speeches about Lincoln.

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama -- a Democrat who hails from the Land of Lincoln - Illinois; reminded audiences from coast to coast about the similarities between himself and the beloved political leader.

In Washington, a congressional tribute took place yesterday at the Capitol rotunda, and a wreath honoring Lincoln was placed at the Capitol.

Obama also paid tribute to his hero earlier this week, at a celebration for the reopening of the theater where Abraham Lincoln was slain. The reopening of Ford's Theatre after an 18-month refurbishment, was timed to coincide with a celebration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth

Also yesterday, the US Mint unveiled the first of four new pennies depicting Abraham Lincoln. The coins, produced to honor the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth (and the 100th anniversary of the production of the Lincoln cent), are the first redesigned pennies to enter circulation in a half-century.

The heads still feature Lincoln's profile and the words "In God We Trust;" the flip side will highlight a stage of his life. The first release features a picture of the one-room log cabin where Lincoln was born. The other three coins will be issued in roughly three-month intervals throughout the year and will depict Lincoln's formative years in Indiana, his professional life in Illinois, and his presidency.

The Library of Congress also marked Lincoln's bicentennial yesterday by opening a special exhibit featuring Lincoln's handwritten speeches and artifacts, including the Bible used last month by Obama during his swearing-in.

"This exhibit, in a little more than 200 items, presents Lincoln, the man and the politician," John Sellers, curator of the exhibit, told reporters. Lincoln successfully fought a proposal for legalized slavery as development spread to the Western United States, and he eventually brought an end to slavery throughout the country.

There are also grim reminders of Lincoln's assassination. An original "wanted" poster with large black letters reads: "$100,000 Reward. The murderer is still at large."

The poster includes a photograph of John Wilkes Booth, who was on the run after being accused of firing the fatal shots at Ford's Theatre in Washington, where Lincoln was attending a play.

The autopsy report is also included in the exhibition, along with the actual blood stains of Lincoln's blood. Other, more lighthearted artifacts are also on display, including an 1860 letter from a girl urging presidential candidate Lincoln to grow a beard to help his prospects with voters.

No comments: