Presidential party

Lincoln Bicentennial includes
events throughout Kentucky

Several cities receive money
to plan events for occasion

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(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 Kentucky’s contribution to the Lincoln legacy.

Mary Todd Lincoln House

Photo by Helen McKinney

The Mary Todd Lincoln house in
Lexington, Ky., is a popular
tourist attraction.

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 Kentucky’s influence on Lincoln’s 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 Hamilton.
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 Council.
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 commission’s key goals is to educate Kentuckians and the nation about the role Kentucky played in the development of our nation’s 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 Lincoln’s casket.
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 Lincoln’s Kentucky roots, a bicentennial celebration was held last year focusing on Lincoln’s parents wedding.
Lincoln was a man who overcame a lot of hardships in difficult times to be a leader, said Kelly. He hopes Lincoln’s 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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