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The Maundy Morning Newsletter - This Week in History May 30-June 5.
Happy Memorial Day, Okay History friends. We welcome a bunch of new subscribers. Thank you for signing up. Let's have some fun!
Today we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial dedication. The Greek-inspired temple to the 16th president sits just inside the National Mall across the Potomac River from Arlington Cemetery. It overlooks a reflecting pool that leads to the World War II Memorial and Washington Monument. This is prime DC real estate, folks.
However, the incredible tribute to Abraham Lincoln pales compared to the one I provided earlier this year, where Tens of Tens of people read what I think about the man. And I do think highly of him.
The monument's architect was Henry Bacon, and the project was his last. His earlier work included assisting on the base of the Alexander Hamilton sculpture, and we all know what I think of him.
The interior is filled with marble quarried from Colorado, and sculptor James Earle Fraser molded Lincoln specifically with Tennessee marble into a 19-foot giant. Thirty-six states are listed at the top of the façade, representing the number of states at Lincoln's death, and thirty-six columns keep the monument standing. It takes eighty-seven steps from the bottom to the top, and eighty-seven represents the years referenced in the speech Lincoln gave in a small town in Pennsylvania in 1863.*
Bacon and other dignitaries broke ground on February 12, 1914, so the project took eight years to complete, which apparently was on schedule. There was some debate about what the memorial should look like. Some advocated for a small log cabin to reflect Lincoln's humble beginnings, but fortunately, the current version won out. Inside the walls are two of Lincoln's most prominent speeches, the Gettysburg Address, and his Second Inauguration. Lincoln was so good at speech giving; they didn't have room for this one.
Former president and the Chief Justice of the United States, William Taft, led the commission to build the Lincoln Memorial. President Warren Harding left his mistress at the White House to join the festivities and accepted the tribute for the American people.
Punch was served, and prominent black American leaders had their own section, away from all the whites, because we just couldn't help ourselves.
If you get the chance to visit Washington, DC, the Lincoln Memorial is a must-visit. One of my favorite drives is coming over the Memorial Bridge, where you can see the Kennedy Center to your left, Jefferson to your right, and Arlington in your review mirror as you pass the Lincoln. Beautiful.
Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
The Battle of Midway began on June 4, 1942. Six months after Japan opened a can of whoop-ass, The United States brought the pain in a major naval battle in the Pacific Ocean over the next four days. The good guys with guns won this time and turned the momentum of WWII in the Pacific towards the Americans.
Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City on June 2, 1997. The domestic terrorist killed 168 people, including 19 children. McVeigh was executed on June 11, 2001.
Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her home on June 5, 2002. A 49-year man and his wife abducted the Utah teenager. They lived a strange life for the next 15 years when she was recognized and rescued in her home state. Speaking of strange, Smart placed eighth in The Masked Dancer competition in 2021.
I plan to spend the day working on some important OKH projects that will begin this week if everything goes according to plan.
I will take a break and catch a movie. Anonymous and I have tickets to see Top Gun Maverick. The original came out when I was in the 5th grade, and I believe it was the last movie my family went to together. I got to see Kelly McGillis lick Tom Cruise on screen while sitting next to my parents. Good times.
We prepped last night and watched the original. Of course, I slept through most of the second half because the sun went to bed, and so must I.
Have a great week—no points for second place.
* An earlier version stated that the 87 steps didn’t represent anything. Paco correctly pointed out it is referenced in the Gettysburg Address. I am grateful to Paco, a fantastic human being.