Lincoln 100 Videos and Photos

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Duration:
2 minutes, 38 seconds

Join Ranger Tameika as she discusses the works of art inside the Lincoln Memorial

 
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Duration:
4 minutes, 50 seconds

Join Ranger Susan Philpott talk about the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. at Lincoln Memorial.

 
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Duration:
3 minutes, 49 seconds

Join Ranger Garrett discuss the legacy of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

 
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Duration:
2 minutes, 26 seconds

Park Ranger John Wells talks about Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's son, attending the ceremony dedicating a memorial to his presidential father.

 
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Duration:
10 minutes, 32 seconds

Grab an apron and your party hat! We're celebrating the upcoming anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial by baking President Abraham Lincoln's favorite cake. Follow along with rangers Claire and Dani as they share the recipe.

 
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Duration:
6 minutes, 54 seconds

Come watch a video from our partner National Geographic about the history and construction of the Lincoln Memorial.

 

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I have a very special connection with the Lincoln Memorial.  If you want to know why, you will have to know my story. I grew up in DC, decided to join the  military as a young man and then the Korean War started and I was sent to Korea in 1952  but as we were going over there me and some old friends of mine we were all negroes and the guys would say "wow, man this is really something, we go into war to fight for someone else's freedom and don't have any freedom ourselves back home." 

Up with the second infantry division, the division it was the one that had the most casualties of the war itself and I do have two purple hearts from that part of the war, but as the war went on I was wounded and was sent to Japan and while i was there the Japanese people treated me just like I was supposed to be: a human being. 

Tour duty was up in Korea and we were sent back to America when we docked  a friend of mine as we walked off the ship he said "It's good to be back in America." All of us were feeling great to be back home again that morning they picked us up put us on the buses and took us up to Richmond, California. It's early in the morning I guess about 9:30 maybe 10 o'clock we walked in and guys are sitting around eating so we as a bunch we sat down at the table and we waited for the waitress to come. So we were hollering "Waitress, waitress" and the young ladies they just walked around like we wasn't there and that's when a friend of mine said "Whoa, we are back in America again. Here just like it was when we left a so-called second-class citizen." And it actually brought tears to my eyes and the friends that I was with. That was the hardest part coming back home, you go overseas to fight for someone else's freedom and you come back home was none there at all for you, and it was a hard thing.

Now I got a family myself, so I'm carrying the kids around the memorials because I had to take them because I was there when my family took me when I was a young man so my first memorial we went to was Lincoln Memorial. I heard a lot about Lincoln Memorial when I was in school and I really now no doubt I want to see what this is really about. So we climb the steps my two children and we go into the chamber and to me it really hit me really hard because at that time this country was still segregated and what I read about this man is saying that every man is created equal and when I turn around and look and I say oh no this can't be true because my country is not treating me as equal as everyone else here you know and that was a hard thing for me to stomach.

There was a young man I heard about, this young person called Martin Luther King, really pushing civil rights and I had never seen the gentleman, I've only heard him speak through tapes that other people had but one day I come to find out that this young preacher was going to come and stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, same place that other great people like Marian Anderson stood in some because she was denied singing in places before. So I decided to take off that day and I rushed down to the Lincoln Memorial to get me a seat down front because I really wanted to see him but as the crowd grew I didn't care because I'm down front and I'm going to be able to see this man speak and as he spoke the words flowed out his mouth just like honey. I can just imagine how Lincoln felt when he was up at Gettysburg making his speech.

And as today, I really saw something that I never figured I would never see, an African-American being president of this great country. I never thought I'd see it, I'm in my 70s and I figured I'd be long gone from this earth and maybe my children will see it coming, but I'm here and now I am really proud to be American, I am proud of my country. They tried to silence Lincoln by assassinating him it didn't work, Martin Luther King went out there and he spoke and they tried to silence him and what happened, the word got louder and louder and you can see now the country is pulling themselves together and at the moment I'm trying to hold back these tears because I am very happy. I have gone to hell for my country and they told me you were nothing but now I've come to find out I am something and I think that's all I'm gonna have to say. Yes. That's it.

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Duration:
5 minutes, 29 seconds

Ranger Gill Lyons shares his experience of civil rights in the U.S. through memories of his life and moments at the Lincoln Memorial. Join him for his personal stories of service in the Korean War, returning home to be treated as a second-class citizen, and taking his family to the Lincoln Memorial while living in a segregated country. He watched Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give his most famous speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial, and witnessed the election of the first African American U.S. President.

 

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The first time I visited the Lincoln Memorial I was with my grandparents and I was 13 years old, and we had already seen a lot of Washington DC. By the time we got to Lincoln Memorial it was just another one of the sites for me and as I walked around the outside of the memorial, I looked up to the top and noticed all the states. I noticed Texas. Well that's my home state. And I felt an instant connection to the Lincoln Memorial. I didn't know exactly why the state of Texas was there, but I knew there had to be a good reason for it. And as we walked up into the memorial and I saw the statue of Lincoln, it all kind of hit home a little bit. I was 13. I didn't know a whole lot about Abraham Lincoln. What I had learned about him was that he was a self-taught man, grew up in a log cabin, you know the same thing that you learn in any school in America. The thing about Lincoln though was I realized with him anyone can become president of the United States, and I remember that as a kid and growing up thinking I've got the same opportunity that  everybody else does. Anybody else that's been president, that can be me one day, so I made my connections to the Lincoln Memorial and I really enjoy helping visitors make a connection as well. Because everything's not right there in front of you. You have to search for a few things. 

As a visitor standing at the Lincoln Memorial looking to the east, they'll notice the Washington Monument, they'll notice the Capitol building. What they can't see at the other end of the National Mall is the Ulysses S Grant Memorial. He's up on his horse Cincinnati, very high in the air and his eyes and Lincoln's eyes meet through the Washington Monument. It's a powerful  image when you think about it- the the two men that  helped to end the civil war are staring through the father of our country's memorial. Kind of a neat thing and they see a president who has spent the last four years of his life trying  to end the civil war also trying to end slavery.

And so when you're looking at the statue of  Abraham Lincoln, his hands are very symbolic. You have to look closely. You'll see a fist in one hand. That's his left and then in his right hand, he has an open hand and the fist shows Lincoln in  action. That is Lincoln during the civil war. He has kept his promise to defend the union and defend the flag of the United States. The other hand is open to show that he is also a man who can forgive.  And he does forgive the south, ask them to come back into the union at the end of the civil war. It's almost as if that open hand is there to shake the hand of the south and as visitors stand inside the chamber of Lincoln memorial and they they gaze up at the statue of Lincoln and they notice something is flowing over his chair.

It's not his overcoat, it's not a blanket. It is our American flag. The only way to notice that it is the American flag is to study  that statue very closely, and if you look just to the left of his right knee, you're going to notice a few stars in the marble that's indicative of the flag. That's the only way you can tell you're looking at the American flag. That could be seen as a disrespectful thing by  some, but when you think about what he did to save the flag, to wage war upon his own country, to uphold the union he promised to protect, it makes perfect sense. And it's such a great symbol to see him seated on that flag because he himself became a victim of the American civil war. Lincoln fought for the flag, he died for the flag, and it makes perfect sense for him to be seated upon our American flag.

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Duration:
4 minutes, 4 seconds

Subtle features of the Lincoln Memorial hold meaning and symbolism. There are connections to other memorials in Washington D.C., moments in history, and parts of Lincoln’s story waiting to be found in the memorial’s stone.

 

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The Lincoln Memorial's form, like the Parthenon of ancient Athens, a neoclassical temple, often suggests to some that Lincoln is deified here but Henry Bacon, Daniel Chester French the sculptor, Jules Guerin the artist, all tried to show us something different.

It is true that Lincoln's  words are lasting in terms of their power, their significance, their eloquence. But Lincoln was quite human and he's portrayed as such in this memorial. I think the opposite might be true. It is a temple but its purpose is to remind us that if Lincoln, a man with little formal education, could achieve the presidency, could lead us through a great civil war, and aspire to remind us of what this nation had become and should achieve, then any citizen at any level in our society could do the same.

In a nation where the Capitol of the United States is crowned with a statue that reminds us of liberty and freedom in the distance, where the Washington Monument in the foreground reminds us of the father of our country's efforts to create the constitution. Lincoln at the far end of the pool reminds us of what it took to preserve  all that others had sought in the beginning, what our nation may face again in the future, and what any citizen coming here should always be reminded of. Not that Lincoln had all the answers. None of our presidents ever will. But that he participated, he led, he forced us to imagine what our nation should do and should achieve, should preserve, and should extend the very liberty that those other symbols remind us of.

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Duration:
2 minutes, 10 seconds

The Lincoln Memorial is built in the form of the Parthenon of ancient Athens. Discover the ways the artist and sculptor intended to portray Lincoln the man and inspire the nation. Explore the symbolism of the Lincoln Memorial's design and placement.

 

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I grew up in Tennessee, raised in a little tiny mountain town called Elizabethtown Tennessee which  is in the peaks of the Smokies. I was not raised that Lincoln was a hero, not in family circles or even academic circles. When I was a child the south was still recovering from the civil war  so when I went to school they didn't have too many positive things to say about him.

So actually when I started working here about 11 years ago, I didn't have any heritage feelings toward Lincoln because he just wasn't really taught to us on positive terms or even as a part of the south. I had ancestors there at Appomattox so when I started here 11 years ago, I will never forget the first night I ever worked at the Lincoln Memorial. Standing in there, I felt like I was literally in hostile territory and when you're standing there and you've got this heritage and here's this big statue looming over you, I felt very uncomfortable.  The first time I started working there and you look over on the south wall- there's the Gettysburg Address. You look over on the north wall- there's the second inaugural and the first time I read it, it made me angry because he does state in there, he does lay blame on the south. And that part of it kind of made me feel a little resentful because it's like not all of it was the south's fault.

Not too long after I started working here I accepted an assignment in which I would be working on the second inaugural and trying to understand what Lincoln was trying to accomplish with this speech. From doing this assignment I got a better understanding of Lincoln, a better understanding of what he was trying to accomplish, why he did the things that he did. It also gave me a better appreciation of him in which seeing him in a better light, the fact that he was trying to really accomplish the healing of the nation, and he did want the south treated generously. He wanted them brought into the union and to help them recover so that both sides could come together and move on. Just put the war behind them, forgive each other, and to help rebuild and move on. And because of all this because seeing where he was going with this, this kind of helped me have a better appreciation of him, and it  also made me feel a lot better about him, so that whenever now when I work in the Lincoln Memorial, I have become friends with him. And it is like working in a place where an old friend lives.

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Duration:
3 minutes, 2 seconds

Join Ranger Kathryn Williams as she shares her changing experience with the Lincoln Memorial. She grew up in the South and was affected by the Civil War more than 100 years later, which influenced her initial feelings about the memorial. She discusses her journey with Lincoln’s story through the words of the second inaugural address as she discovers meaning and, eventually, a sense of friendship.

 

Last updated: May 27, 2022

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