Thursday, February 12, 2015
15,000 Tributes to Abraham Lincoln
On my recent trip to Washington D.C. I was enchanted by the tower of books written about Abraham Lincoln. Ford's Theater Center for Education and Leadership.
The sculpture perfectly complements the space inside the spiral staircase, and I wonder which idea came first.
Although they look like books, there are 7,000 covers of real books printed onto aluminum.
Stacked this way and that, it's intriguing to walk up the staircase and spot children's books about our former president snuggled up to serious histories. I recognized one or two I'd read, and it certainly made me curious about others.
Actually, there are over 15,000 titles written about Lincoln and his presidency. That averages out to about 100 books per year since his death. Imagine that, like 15,000 pieces of fan (and hate) mail.
His life, and death, have had tremendous influence in people's lives. The Ford education center has video clips and exhibits that explore his legacy.
Lincoln has become a champion for freedom. An encourager to the disenfranchised. Even if the motives behind the Emancipation Proclamation were not totally altruistic the effect of giving legal precedent to end slavery was monumental.
While the Lincoln Memorial makes him a symbol, the books suggest we can know him in some way, observe the grand moments and small routines of his life. He becomes as much human as hero.
The Ford house and Center, along with the theater, gave me a thrill of stepping back and a sense that I had just missed our most famous president pass through the rooms.