February 19th is Presidents Day, a federal holiday here in the United States.
Originally, the holiday was designated as Washington’s Birthday, and was celebrated on George Washington’s actual date of birth, February 22nd. In 1971, however, as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, the holiday was moved to the third Monday in February. The holiday has also been expanded to honor Abraham Lincoln (birthday February 12th). Various states choose to observe the holiday on different days, under different titles, and even different presidents, but as far as federal holidays go, today is Presidents Day.
I have already written about the Washington Monument and Washington’s estate home in Mount Vernon, but I haven’t written about Lincoln.
The Lincoln Memorial is at one end of Washington DC’s National Mall. The building looks like a Greek Doric Temple, with huge columns, and a bigger-than-life marble statue of Lincoln. The statue is 19 feet tall and 19 feet wide. Above the statue of Lincoln are inscribed the words:
In this temple
As in the hearts of the people
For whom he saved the Union
The memory of Abraham Lincoln
Is enshrined forever
On the south interior wall is inscribed the Gettysburg Address, on the north wall is inscribed Lincoln’s second inauguaral address.
The memorial steps was the site for Martin Luther King’s 1963″I Have a Dream” speech, part of the March on Washington. A tile on the step marks the spot from where Dr. King delivered his speech.
The Memorial is open 24 hours, every day exept Christmas. I’ve seen the memorial as different hours of the day, and is particularly spectacular at night. There is no fee to visit the Memorial.
The Lincoln Memorial is at one end of the Reflecting Pool, with the World War II Memorial at the other, and beyone that the Washington Monument. Metro access to the Lincoln Memorial requires a bit of a walk, but is reachable from the Smithsonian or Foggy Bottom stop, both on the Orange and Blue Line.
If you can’t make it to Washington DC to see the Lincoln Memorial, all you have to do is grab some US money. You can see Abraham Lincoln on the front side of the penny (commonly called the Lincoln Penny), and the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side. Lincoln is also depicted on the front side of the five dollar bill, with the Lincoln Memorial on the reverse side.
Photo credit: Memorial at night; statue