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The Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Kentuckians celebrate centennial of their Lincoln memorial

The Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

HODGENVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Rabbi Joseph Rapport opened a prayer by saying five score years ago the first memorial to President Abraham Lincoln was created.

The structure loomed behind the man as he led a prayer beginning a ceremony observing the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial Monday at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park near Hodgenville.

Rapport represented a temple in Louisville, which was home to the rabbi who took part in the memorial’s dedication 100 years ago. A priest closed the ceremony, representing a church that also had participated in the dedication.

Rapport said the memorial is a symbol of the origins of a president who faced great difficulties and people’s desire to remember him.

“What was for them still a memory has become for us our history,” he said.

The ceremony included representatives from state government, including Gov. Steve Beshear, and the entire fourth grade from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Hodgenville, which is studying state history.

Teacher Jackie Harley hoped students will remember being at the memorial during the centennial and being part of that step in history.

State Rep. Michael Meredith said he was glad the class came.

“Our history is only our history if we share it with the next generation,” he said.

Meredith said he was glad the memorial commemorates a man who was a strong leader in dealing with some of the same issues that government officials still deal with today, such as states’ rights.

“The history of our 16th president is the history of a nation,” he said.

Marcheta Sparrow, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet secretary, said she was impressed by the hard work of Kentucky residents to preserve Lincoln’s memory in a simple and almost hallowed way.

“I think that is a true and fitting tribute to President Lincoln,” she said.

Sparrow said the state clearly had an impact on Lincoln, as leaders’ earliest memories always affect them.

“This memorial is more than just a tourist stop on a map,” she said.

The memorial houses a replica of the home Thomas, Nancy, Sarah and Abraham Lincoln lived in.

The family had lived there a year when Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, and stayed there until forced to leave in 1811 after a dispute over the title to the land.

The Lincoln Farm Association was formed and began raising money for a memorial after the land was sold at public auction following the owner’s bankruptcy. The group raised almost $350,000 with donations between 25 cents and $25.

The 56 steps leading up to the memorial represent the president’s age when he died. The 16 rosettes, windows and posts surrounding the replica cabin represent his spot in the progression of presidents.

President Theodore Roosevelt laid the memorial’s cornerstone on the centennial anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and President William Howard Taft delivered a dedication speech for the structure in November 1911.

Dale Liikala of Mentor, Ohio, dressed as Taft on Monday to deliver the president’s speech from the dedication.

He read, “It is eminently appropriate that the farm where Lincoln was born should come into public possession, and should have erected on it, a suitable memorial in which to preserve mementos of his personality and biographies of his life.”

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Information from: The News-Enterprise, http://www.thenewsenterprise.com

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
The Memorial Building at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Ky. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.