Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

Although I have never lived more than 2.5 hours away from Washington DC, and even went to college there, I had never visited the Lincoln Memorial. It seemed like there was always something else vying for my attention and time. So I decided it was about time I went to see it.


As with most monuments, there is a lot of hidden meaning and symbolism. The USA had thirty-six states when Lincoln was assassinated. The number of columns surrounding the memorial is also 36. The names of the states are also engraved in the frieze at the top of the building, as are the dates on which they entered the Union.

Once you enter, there is the big statue of Lincoln, seated in his chair. I know you’ve seen pictures and movies, so you know it’s big. But standing in front of it, big is not even close to being an adequate description. It’s just one of those things you have to see in person.


Interestingly, the sculptor positioned Lincoln’s hands in a manner that displayed the two traits that shaped his legacy. One of the president’s hands is clenched, representing his strength and determination to see the Civil War through to a successful conclusion. The other hand is more open and relaxed, representing his compassionate, warm nature.

The statue was originally intended to be only 10 feet tall, but was enlarged to nearly double that size – 19 feet tall from head to foot. To give you an idea of how big that is, imagine if the statue suddenly became animated and stood up. He would be 28 feettall!

It took four years just to complete the statue of Lincoln.

The north and south side of the memorial interior contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address. The editor in me loves the story about how in the inscription of  Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, an engraver inadvertently carved a letter “E” where he meant to carve an “F.” This error was corrected by filling in a portion of the carving.

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While you’re there looking at the Lincoln statue, be sure to turn around for one of the best views of the Washington Monument and the Reflecting pool you will ever see.

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And, as I always say, don’t forget to look up!

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Take the time to visit this memorial and ponder the significance of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency on our country. You’ll be glad you did.

Confession:  I have never been to the Washington Monument or the Jefferson Memorial, either. Stay tuned!

The Lincoln Memorial is located at the Western end of the National Mall and Memorial Park in Washington DC.  Public parking is available along Ohio Drive, SW between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. If taking public transportation, the closest Metro stop is Foggy Bottom (orange and blue lines), about a mile away. The monument can be visited any time, day or night, 365 days per year.

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