events throughout Kentucky
cities receive money
to plan events for occasion
Helen E. McKinney
(November 2007) Kentucky has come a long way
since 1809 when Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Hodgenville,
Ky. Plans are being made across the state to emphasize Kentuckys
contribution to the Lincoln legacy.
by Helen McKinney
Mary Todd Lincoln house in
Lexington, Ky., is a popular
The Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was
created in 2004 to implement a two-year statewide celebration beginning
in 2008. Scheduled events will tie the Kentucky commission to the National
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission to present Kentuckys influence
on Lincolns thoughts and ideas in a variety of activities.
Lincoln was a native Kentuckian, said Lisa Cleveland, spokesperson
for the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He was greatly
influenced by Kentucky throughout his life.
The Kentucky Historical Society will administer the Kentucky Abraham
Lincoln Commission. In addition to committee members, an advisory council
has also been created to aid in the celebration.
It is no small feat to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth
of a president. A long list of various commemorative activities will
kick off on with a national event on Feb. 12, 2008, in Hodgenville.
Activity sites include the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace and Boyhood Home
National Historic Site in Hodgenville; the Mary Todd Lincoln House and
Ashland; the Henry Clay Estate in Lexington; the Lincoln Homestead State
Park in Springfield; the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort; and
Farmington in Louisville. The Louisville Waterfront will be the future
site of a new Lincoln statue by nationally known Kentucky sculptor Ed
Lincoln related projects will exist across the state through the many
commission sponsored grant programs. Planned initiatives include educational
programs, preservation initiatives, speakers, museum exhibits, teacher
workshops, and public art projects, just to name a few. Grant programs
have been funded through the Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky
Humanities Council, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Heritage
The Kentucky Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission secured $4 million
from the Kentucky General Assembly to support Lincoln Bicentennial initiatives
in the state. The commission also completed a survey of Lincoln sites
throughout the state and helped to secure Birthplace of Lincoln
signs at major Kentucky entryways.
Cleveland said she is not sure that Kentuckians awareness of Lincoln
is at the level it needs to be at. One of the commissions
key goals is to educate Kentuckians and the nation about the role Kentucky
played in the development of our nations greatest president.
There is so much to know about Lincoln, said Iris LaRue,
director of The Lincoln Museum in Hodgenville. And there is always
room to learn more.
The museum is one of six major Lincoln sites in Kentucky, said LaRue.
It will celebrate its 20th anniversary during the bicentennial celebration
and display a special art collection and several different exhibits,
such as a Lincoln Funeral exhibit that will include a copy of Lincolns
The Hodgenville community averages 250,000 to 350,000 tourists a year,
she said, and this number will increase with the celebrations. Scholars
across the United States will be involved in symposiums. New books are
on the market by noted Lincoln authors. And there is a revival of Lincoln
movies, music and artwork.
LaRue said his values were what made Lincoln a great president, coupled
with his belief that all people were created equal.
The bicentennial events are expected to draw international attention
as well, said Kentucky state Sen. Dan Kelly. He is co-chairman of the
commission, along with Larue County Judge-Executive Tommy Turner. He
is a larger than life international icon.
When people in Asia were asked who were the greatest political leaders
of all time, Lincoln was third on their list, said Kelly. It is
the rich Lincoln heritage in Kentucky that we are trying to promote.
Many times, the public associates Lincoln with Illinois because his
law office was there and he is buried in Illinois, he said. In an effort
to bring about an awareness of Lincolns Kentucky roots, a bicentennial
celebration was held last year focusing on Lincolns parents wedding.
Lincoln was a man who overcame a lot of hardships in difficult times
to be a leader, said Kelly. He hopes Lincolns courage, wisdom,
humility and kindness will be shown through these events. There will
be many more similar events in the next two years.
Information for this story was obtained from
the Kentucky Bicentennial website. For more information, visit: www.kylincoln.org
or contact Cleveland at (502) 564-1792, ext. 4489. Or visit the Lincoln
Bicentennial homepage at: www.lincolnbicentennial.gov.
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