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Experience the Centennial celebration of Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC

By: Wendy Vogeley

I’ve always loved Abraham Lincoln. By that, I mean that I’ve always admired our 16th President and all that he believed in and that he accomplished. On my first trip to Washington DC in the early 1970’s, my parents took us to see all the monuments. I enjoyed seeing the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial and Arlington cemetery, but nothing had a more lasting impact on me than visiting the Lincoln Memorial. I remember standing in front of it in absolute awe. It was so imposing, so striking and so important. And there he was, the man that came from such humble beginnings, the man that lost his mother as a child, that essentially taught himself how to read and write, to survive–the man that went on to change our nation, sitting right in front of me.

This February 12th would be President Lincoln’s 200th birthday. All across the country many cities are celebrating his life, his Presidency and what he meant to our people by series of events and activities. Washington DC has planned a variety of exhibits, lectures and performances to help people learn more about Lincoln and his years in our Nation’s capital. Living the Legacy: Lincoln in DC, began on January 1 and will continue through April. Included in the events is an inaugural ball with a Victorian theme held at the Smithsonian Art Museum on January 18th. The theme is nostalgic of Lincoln’s inaugural ball held at the same location in 1865, which was at that time one of the city’s most impressive buildings.

If you’re planning on being in Washington DC during the next few months, be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to experience some of the special events and exhibits. There’s an exhibit at the National Archives that displays a real telegram sent by President Lincoln and an interactive display that explores the Booth conspiracy. Also, there’s an amazing display at the National Portrait Gallery of their best Lincoln portraits. You can even visit his cottage and take tours of this country home where he spent a lot of time during his years in Washington DC.

At Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, there’s an incredible collection of Lincoln artifacts on display from January 16 through the 31st, including his famous Top Hat. Visitors will see items and learn many facts about his personal and professional life as related by people who knew him best.

There’s no doubt that DC offers an abundance of sightseeing opportunities everyday of the year. From the Smithsonian Museums to all the monuments and memorials, it’s an experience of a lifetime for people of all ages. If you’ve never seen the FDR Memorial, I highly recommend a visit. It’s like a walking tour through Roosevelt’s presidency and is not only educational, but quite moving.

And of course, we are just days away from welcoming a new president into the White House. So if you’re in town on or near January 20th, you might just witness history in the making.

For me, there will always be a special place in my heart for the man that spoke these words so eloquently “that this nation, under god, shall have a new birth of freedom–and that government of the people, for the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth”. He freed the slaves, he gave the word “united” true meaning and was truly a brilliant pioneer in the throes of great adversity.

I look forward to a new year of wonderful opportunities for all of us–and in the spirit of honest Abe, hope that his vision of hope, freedom and peace will reign again.

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