Go to the Lincoln Memorial at night, an hour or so after sunset. It's completely safe and you will never forget the views of the Capitol, the Washington Memorial (the thing that sticks straight up in the middle distance) and the Reflecting Pool. Then turn around and, QUIETLY, enter the top level of the memorial where Mr. Lincoln sits. To your left is, perhaps, the greatest speech in American history, the Gettysburg Address. To your right is Lincoln's Second Inaugural speech, a less loquacious speech that could have been better edited, but which still resounds with meaning to this day.
Every time we take friends, relatives or visitors to the memorial I read the Gettysburg Address aloud for them. Read it slowly -- if you don't know it by heart as I do -- and savor the power and rhythm of his words. And think of our country, what is has become and what it still can be,
Before you go up the wide, wide stairs to see Mr. Lincoln, go left past the stairs and you'll see a door. Go on in and enjoy the little museum about the Mall and the evolution of the president's thinking on freedom, slavery and the future of our country. If you're not familiar with Washington, it's worthwhile sticking around to watch the short video about the Mall, though it's a bit dated.
As a lad who was born in Washington and grew up in the Land of Lincoln, let me ask you to hush your children and to peak in low voices when you approach Mr. Lincoln. He remains perhaps the greatest American and is surely worthy of that respect.
God bless America!
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