Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Year of Lincoln

Historians and the media have dubbed 2009 as the "Year of Lincoln," because it is the 200th anniversary of his birthday. We have honored our illustrious 16th president since his election, but his legacy became even more apparent following his death. Because he was the first American president to be assassinated, and because the country had just gone through four years of horrible misery, Abraham Lincoln will forever go down in history as the man who saved the slaves, which is what he verbally wished to be remembered for the most.

In 1909, it was decided that Lincoln would appear on the penny in honor of his 100th birthday, and his likeness has been there ever since. He was the first president to be immortalized on U.S. currency, and his face also appears on five dollar bills. There is nothing on record that indicates why Lincoln was chosen for the $5 bill,which took place in the 1920's.

Lincoln's likeness also appears in many other places. There is an enormous monument in Washington D.C. that has inspired many, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech there. Our current president, Obama, was so inspired by Lincoln that he pledged his oath of office on the same Bible as Lincoln. Old Abe is one of only four men chosen to be immortalized on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. His statue stands at Gettysburg, he (of course) has a presidential library in Springfield, Illinois, and he is honored, along with the Father of our Country, George Washington, every February. Some of us even get the day off! Lincoln will always hold a fascination to us, and even though he was considered just another politician during his presidency, he has since been elevated to an iconic status, even considered a martyr by some.

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