This memorial to America’s 16th president is the most visited on the National Mall. More than 7 million people tour the site yearly, and they come from all over the world. Abraham Lincoln is a hero to Americans for his masterful leadership of the country during the Civil War, as he struggled to unite the country and uphold the founding fathers’ principles establishing equal rights for all. Citizens of the world admire him for his strength of character and for his “with malice toward none; with charity for all” compassion.
His own words reveal the man, and you can read them yourself when you enter the temple-like structure, for excerpts of Lincoln’s Gettysburg and Second Inaugural addresses are inscribed on the limestone walls of the chamber. At center stage in the memorial sits the 19-foot-high statue of a weary-looking and pensive Lincoln.
It’s only natural that Lincoln’s memorial has served as the backdrop for landmark civil rights events that have taken place ever since, including contralto Marion Anderson’s performance on Easter Sunday, 1939, after the Daughters of the American Revolution had forbade Anderson, who was black, to perform at the DAR‘s Constitution Hall.
On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” from the steps of the Memorial (look for the exact step, it’s marked), to the crowd of 250,000, who had gathered on the National Mall part of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom to pressure Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act.
Fast forward to the jubilant concert that took place here on Jan. 19, 2009, to celebrate the inauguration of the country’s first black president, Barack Obama.
To learn more about Lincoln and the memorial, join one of the Ranger tours that are ongoing throughout the day, and be sure to visit Ford’s Theatre and Museum.
FYI: Repair and restoration work on the Lincoln Memorial have started and will continue until 2019, but the plan is to keep the memorial open throughout.
Metro: Foggy Bottom on the Silver, Blue, and Orange Lines, with a bit of a walk. DC Circulator stop.