Skip to main content

tv   Washington Journal Lincoln Memorial Centennial  CSPAN  May 21, 2022 9:04pm-10:05pm EDT

9:04 pm
year dedication of the lincoln mario we are joined by author and abraham harold holzer lincoln to -- joined by author and lincoln expert harold holzer to discuss. what sets it apart? guest: one is just the beauty, the building and the magnificence of the marble statue, the largest marble monument portrait in the united
9:05 pm
states, then and now. what further has set it apart is the use of this space i am sitting on all the way to the steps as a platform for the discussion of grievances, for the aspirations for a more perfect union, for what reagan called unfinished -- what lincoln called unfinished work. it has evolved into the setting for demonstrations, gatherings, meetings, concerts that all point to completing that unfinished business of his. host: describe where you are and for those who haven't been there, with the should know. guest: i am sitting about 50, 40 feet from the reflecting pool on
9:06 pm
the far end of the monument. and of course the memorial is behind me up 87 steps, i think i have that right. finished in 19 and they waited for it to settle on the soft ground before it settled -- for it to settle before they had the dedication. 100 years ago, the african-american community of washington came out to the spot early to get good seats to see this tribute to a man they still regarded as the great emancipator. for the ceremony started, the park police rousted the african-americans out of their seats and moved them all back to
9:07 pm
right around where we are sitting, to the reflecting pool, a long way away from the mario in a roped off section and cheers without backs. what started as a tribute to the greek emancipator ended as a reflection of segregated washington and a separate but unequal society that still existed in washington and the united states. host: a history of the lincoln memorial and what it means today is what we are going to talk about in this hour. you can join the conversation peered the phone lines are split in the eastern and central time zones (202) 748-8000, in the mountain or pacific (202) 748-8001, and a special line for those who visited the lincoln memorial. we want to know why you came in
9:08 pm
what you felt when you came, (202) 748-8002. you can go ahead and start calling. we are joined with harold holzer , live from the steps of the lincoln memorial. take us back before that date. how did this memorial come to be built? was there any pushback against building a memorial at the time to the great emancipator, abraham lincoln? guest: the project was first conceived in 1866, a year after lincoln was assassinated, or you would've thought there would have been a coalescence. as i wait for a plane to go across, a unity. but i just didn't happen. 40 years went by before congress finally in 1905 appropriated the funds, $5 million, to build a
9:09 pm
memorial to abraham lincoln, and then the debate started on where to put it. this site in the swamps of west potomac park was not the first choice. people talked about union station, the base of the capital, the park near the maryland border, the soldier's home where lincoln spent his summer, and finally his former private secretary, later secretary of state, suggested this spot to be remote but not too remote. and the sculptor was the head of the mission in washington, put the rubber stamp on this area. the speaker of the house, joe cannon, said famously, "i will never let a memorial to mike he wrote be -- i will never let a
9:10 pm
memorial be made here. french picked his collaborator, henry bacon, as the architect. there was no competition, but the design was so beautiful. bacon had so right to pick sculptor, so he picked the fellow who had picked him. at that time it was washington dealings and that is what it was. it worked out so magnificently. host: once you get inside lincoln memorial, for folks who haven't been there, explain what you see when you get in and why it was designed that way. guest: it was principally designed as a kind of credo -- cradle for this at one point
9:11 pm
that was going to be a statute. french objected because he wanted people to see the face of lincoln from down here at the reflecting pool all the way up, constant confrontation of lincoln from different angles. what else is the inscribed words of the gettysburg address and the second inaugural address. also some ornaments by beatrice longman, a sculptor associated with daniel chester french. decorative murals by a painter named ernest garin that no one sees because there wait about i level. and finally an epigraph, kind of a caption to the image, supplied by a new york art could tick who
9:12 pm
had always praised daniel chester french -- a new york art critic who had always praised daniel chester french he wrote in this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory is enshrined forever. host: if your subscribers to the wall street journal, and today's review, a column by our guest, harold holzer, the headline, the changing meanings of an american shrine. what are the changing meanings? guest: on dedication day 100 years ago, not just because the african-american visitors were herded off to a segregated area, but for other reasons, the speeches that were given by william howard taft, hurting,
9:13 pm
the president, made it -- harding, the president, made it clear that it was the reunion between north and south. 36 states named, 36 class columns circumventing the memorial structure to symbolize 36 states readmitted to the union after lincoln's presidency and the civil war. there was one african-american speaker, the principal of tuskegee. he had a fiery speech ready, talking about the fact that if equality wasn't the goal of the country than this memorial was an hypocrisy. taft told him in no uncertain terms, we don't allow propaganda at this sacred event, either cut it or we will cut you.
9:14 pm
from there, you go to marian anderson's concert 17 years later singing my country tis of the, of the weise sing, a statement about integration. she had been barred from constitution hall you the white house and after that, in august 1963, martin luther king says i am standing inside the shadow where a hundred years the negro league still not free. -- the need grow is still not free -- the negro is still not free. it morphed into an icon there are cartoons of the lincoln
9:15 pm
memorial weeping. it goes on and on. and as the viewers know, the ground for the night before the inaugural celebration where president elects come for the last night for they come president for your gigantic rallies and as for the case for president biden, a very quiet tribute to the dead from covid. he came in front of the reflecting pool for those who died from covid. host: we see behind you the various people come to the
9:16 pm
memorial, not just visitors but graduates in downs and adjusted to hear from our callers about what the lincoln memorial means to you and your visits there could we have a special line. ryan is calling from -- bob and texas is on that line. go ahead. caller: thank you for taking my call. one of the very early images i can remember growing up is watching mr. smith goes to washington where he would look at it and he knew nothing about the taylor machine and bad things going on. it was just the ideal. when my son got old enough, i wanted to take him and show him this to me represents, if you
9:17 pm
look at it you can make your own waves. but we have to acknowledge all of the things that have not been right for all sections of our population. we can speak out about that and try to promote things that are good for all areas. david small wrote a book called so you want to be president and he was a longtime cartoonist for the new yorker and i can remember an image of bill clinton walking up the steps after he had been impeached with his head down and they put that in the book. i thought, it is like lincoln comes the ideal that people work off of. i have just one question. my question is, when i walked in
9:18 pm
and saw the word under god on the left side, are there other places in the memorial that show a spiritual emphasis as far as how our country began? host: thanks for the call. guest: you packed so much in that statement so thank you. the same year marian anderson saying on the steps, mr. smith goes to washington opened around the united states. to prepare for tomorrow's rededication, fruman listening in the region, there will be a ceremony on the steps at 10:00 a.m. re-creating the ceremony, to some degree, and i am going to be speaking if that is an attraction, don't let it keep you away. mr. smith opens the same season
9:19 pm
as marian anderson. and the scene you talk about, he is a child reading the gettysburg address out loud from the wall. then the film cuts to a black man with tears falling down his cheeks as he hears the words of the promise of equality under god. god is mentioned in lincoln's other speech and is on the gettysburg address portion. lincoln added those, they were not in the original text. when he rewrote it, he inserted the words he spoke at gettysburg. the other mention of god is harsher. in the second inaugural address where that is written into panels on the wall, there is a fiery paragraph saying that
9:20 pm
after all these centuries of oppression, slavery, every drop of blood drawn with a lash has to be repaid by those drawn with the sword, that as we said 3000 years ago, so must it be said today, the judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether. so it was evoking god for quality and also for retribution of the sin of slavery. host: you have written 50 books about lincoln and the civil war, do you think lincoln would have been happy the two documents picked to be on the wall, his gettysburg address and the second inaugural address? guest: daniel chester french wanted to add lincoln's farewell
9:21 pm
address to springfield, illinois from 1851 and also his condolence letter to the widow, lydia bixby, from 1864, neither of which made the final cut. i think, and i say this in the wall street journal, that lincoln might have been equally interested in seeing the words of the emancipation inscribed on these walls, not because he wrote them as a rhetorical masterpiece, in fact the document was written in legalese , the words were meant to be binding legally and not necessarily for rhetoric. lincoln regarded the emancipation as the essential act of my administration could when he signed his name, he said if my name ever lives it will be because of this act. i-19 20 with jim crow -- by 1920
9:22 pm
with jim crow still in effect and still with segregation and african american speakers censored, the emancipation proclamation was not the thing to celebrate. the white leaders who created the lincoln memorial emphasized the reunion of northern and southern states and that did not really take proper account of black lives. host: from the steps of the lincoln memorial out to california, good morning, you are on with harold holzer. caller: thank you for taking my call. host: go ahead with your comment or question. caller: i have been to the lincoln memorial several times. i live in california, and it is always been a special occasion getting to know the history. i have been there more than once and have actually just seen --
9:23 pm
host: gary in reno, nevada is next. caller: thank you for taking my call. i am curious with so many things being wrong, and it seems like nothing is being fixed, has anyone in washington heard of invoking the 25th amendment? host: we are talking about the lincoln memorial and the 100th memorial, do have a comment about that? caller: i like the structure. i hope people don't demonize it. host: harold holzer, on that point, hoping it doesn't get demonized, we are in an era in which there has been a rethinking of history, has there ever been a rethinking of the lincoln memorial? host: not yet, happily.
9:24 pm
during some of the protests over the summer of 2020, proactive fencing was erected along this plaza. protests were staged here as they have for decades without incident, but there was a photoshop image of a vandalized graffiti lincoln memorial statute that made it onto the web and scared people for a few hours before it was discovered it was not genuine. a few miles from where we are down past the capitol lincoln, i think the official title is the emancipation group, lincoln with his arm outstretched in a kneeling or rising for the beneficiary of the great
9:25 pm
liberating moment of the proclamation. that said you had come under protest. people tried unsuccessfully to bring it down during some of the protests of the summer. it is worth talking about all of the statues, in washington, the south, the west. i personally don't believe lincoln should be subjected to that kind of revisionism. i will always quote the c-span historians pull conducted every time a new president takes office and that pull has once again marked abraham lincoln as our greatest presidents in i think he deserves it. president come here at the moment when they are reflecting the most, whether bill clinton at the moment of impeachment or ronald reagan when he is coming to the presidency or frank on eleanor roosevelt when he got to washington, he can't walk up the steps, he never did, but every
9:26 pm
separate 12 his car came and he managed to stand leaning on his son on one side and his military aid on the other and take his hat off in the presence of the lincoln memorial. so it appeals to leaders and that is the healthy thing. we can all find something in the lincoln memorial to inspire us and make us really feel hopeful about the country. host: that historian at survey, and thank you for bringing it up, putting linking -- lincoln as the top president, every time the survey has been done, 2017, 2009, 2000, abraham lincoln always comes in first in that survey ahead of george washington, franklin roosevelt, theodore roosevelt, dwight eisenhower, the top five in the latest survey paired why do you think lincoln is always number
9:27 pm
one? guest: because he not only saved the union at its most precarious moment, he also articulated the vision of the american dream in his writing, and aside from that, represented the american dream in his own rise from impoverished remote circumstances all the way to the white house. he lived there team -- the dream, articulated it for everyone else. if it had been a vulcanized, we might have been five countries. how would we have fared against the nazis if we were not a united and strong country, the one lincoln left to us? host: grand rapids, michigan, this is brian, good morning.
9:28 pm
caller: a lot, i am from minnesota but that is ok. -- thanks a lot, i am from minnesota but that is ok. stir holzer, -- mr. holzer, thank you for doing the show paired i did not know this was built so late, 1920. mr. smith goes to washington is one of my favorite movies. i was there meant by brother invited me and my folks there, and i hate to be so flippant, but 27 years ago they had a problem with pigeons getting in there and doing their business. you still have a problem with pigeons in there? guest: it is not flippant, they do damage to statues. i must say i haven't seen any
9:29 pm
birds in there, so they must have figured out. i think it was doing things with shortwave vibrations that inhibit birds. whatever they are doing, it is working in flee. the statue was even washed down with hot water the other day. the picture was in the washington post to get ready for the rededication on sunday. the park service takes magnificent care of the structure. i think you are overdue for another visit. you have to come back. host: in talking about the changes of the lincoln memorial, you talked about a key moment being the march on washington in august 1963. i want to show a clip from a u.s. agency about the march on washington that gives a sense of the scene there at the lincoln memorial. this is about a minute and a half long. [video clip]
9:30 pm
[applause] >> 150 members of the congress of the united states arrived at the rally to add their support, and the support of the people of the states they represent to the spirit of the march in washington. [applause] >> i want some of you to help me win a bet. i want everybody out here in the open to keep quiet, and i want to hear a yell and thunder from all those people who are out there under the trees. let's hear you. [cheers and applause]
9:31 pm
there is one of them in the trees. [laughter] [applause] [chanting] host: some of the images there, mr. holzer, of the 200,000, maybe 300,000 there for march on washington. what that moment meant for the civil rights movement and why the lincoln memorial was for that event. go through that's a little bit. guest: there was a little bit of a distraction. host: can you talk about the importance of that moment, the march on washington? guest: with apologies for that. it was transformative. not an automatic give me.
9:32 pm
i think president kennedy, who did not attend the rally, was ordered that this public space be made available to the public that wanted to use it on that day. we were talking hundreds of thousands of people stretched back on as the speaker said, into the trees. once dr. king invoked the unfinished promise of the emancipation, i think frankly it was a watershed meant, principally for the civil rights movement but also for the lincoln memorial. it now became the symbol of what lincoln himself called, in the words of the gettysburg address, the unfinished work of equality in america. host: back to the phone lines. we had the special phone lines for those who visited the lincoln memorial on the west end of the national mall. ted on the line from ocean, hawaii. caller: thank you for taking my
9:33 pm
call. i was just joining the merchant and washington and i remember it was close to midnight going to the memorial and just being in awe, just stood there and looked at all of the things he accomplished and what a great president he was and he absolutely deserves to be number one. i was lucky to be there. that is what i wanted to say. guest: that's a beautiful sentiment. the reason point worth sharing. though he did not know it when he installed the statue here in 1919, three years before the dedication, the statue is open, the memorial is open day and nights. it is beautifully lit with the highest grade electric lighting
9:34 pm
which french thought of. when he came to the dedication, he noticed the skyline had been lacquered over and front doors would be open all the time so he quickly did remedial work to make sure it showed to wonderful advantage at night. it -- for those who have only come during the day, i would urge them to try visiting at night. it is a totally different almost mystical experience to see lincoln in the light, the shrouded light against the white background. in the darkness of washington. quite beautiful. host: if daniel chester french is somebody you're intrigued by, monument man, the author of the book is carol holzer. up next, good morning. caller: good morning. two points, my wife who died a while ago, used to work for the department of interior and i know they use to -- i don't know if they still do -- give tours
9:35 pm
into the monument underground, to other recesses but typically would not be apparent and the other point just last week i was listening to testimony by deb haaland about the atrocities that have happened to the indigenous people here and it should be duly noted and recognized that it was under lincoln that i think the largest mass execution of people were done, so we just have to be able to tell all of the history. guest: i agree. i would love to talk about both of those things. first, i think the caller is referring to what people call the under croft of the lincoln memorial. the memorial itself is 99 feet high. the undergirding, the basement, call it the under croft, is 67
9:36 pm
feet deep i believe. the reason it is so deep is because this use building, i don't know the weight of it, but i know the weight of the statue, 200 40 tons, that is pretty heavy, and a very deep basement was dug, all sorts of artwork, brilliantly engineered, and it still rests on this musty clay surface, like an unfinished basement. there is graffiti on the walls from the workers who labored there in the 19 teens and the great news is private funding has been allocated to open it because tors are not given any more but it will be reopened in a few years as a visitor center. with a bookstore in a place to see the graffiti workers left. so it should be a tourist attraction in itself. the best news of all about it, aside from the engineering miracle it represents, is it is
9:37 pm
always about 70 degrees in there. it is like a cave in missouri. it is 70 degrees in the winter and 70 degrees in the summer. i can tell you from this plaza it is not 70 degrees in washington today. it is somewhat warmer. [laughter] but a word about the dakota. in 1862, there was an uprising in minnesota, the usual land squabbles, native people said they moved off of their land, they came back allegedly violating a treaty and there were huge battles and ultimately almost 300 native people were arrested and condemned to death. the governor of minnesota told president lincoln it was necessary because of the approaching off year election that the execution go forward.
9:38 pm
lincoln said i am not going to hang people for voting. i went to see every case, i want to review every single case. yes, ultimately -- and this is a tribe -- a tragic half glass half-full or half-empty story, 38 men were condemned and executed. according to the trial record they had committed murder or rape or infanticide or other atrocities but lincoln pardoned more than 250 condemned people. so whether you can sit in -- consider him a great partner or mass execution or is open to discussion and i agree that every part of that store needs to be told. host: you focused a bit on the lincoln memorial as a focal point of the civil rights movement. what about it being a focal point of protests against the vietnam war? guest: i think one of the
9:39 pm
reasons the vietnam memorial was cited near here is that indeed it was a focal point for the antiwar movement as well. and the gay-rights movement and women's right movement. again, movements for chains have coalesced around this and i think the lincoln reputation as a change agent, a frame he would not have recognized, as an advocate for making a more perfect union, is what serves as a magnet for groups who feel they are underrepresented, under served or undertreated. probably the most notable time of the antiwar protests came one night in i believe 1969 when richard nixon paid an unannounced visit to the lincoln memorial at night to meet with -- or at least dialogue with -- some of the protesters who were camping out inside of the atrium at the top of the steps.
9:40 pm
it was not televised, it was unannounced, but we do have some wonderful archival photographs of nixon looking very uncomfortable and the protesters looking very before old to see the president -- very before old -- befuddled to see the president. in front of a statue of a man certainly buffeted by criticism in his day. host: montana, this is dan, good morning. caller: good morning. i always said the march on washington, i think i was eight years old and parents took me and my little sister and i just remembered it as a peaceful and adventurous summer day and lots of different people of all different kinds, and i remember peter paul and mary and of
9:41 pm
course martin luther king's speech and just that everybody got along real well and i remember we were kind of camped out underneath the closest tree to the steps may be and i was only eight and parents let me, ok, it was hot and i wanted to go dip my feet into the reflecting pool. ok, we will be here, just come back when you are done. i went swimming for an hour and got cool and came back and it was a wonderful time. we had a great time and very glad i went to it. and just kind of a funny thing, my little sister was chattering a little bit when martin luther king was speaking in i remember them saying you might want to watch this because someday it will be in your history books.
9:42 pm
anyway. guest: wonderful memory. wonderful memory. host: thanks for those memories. mr. holzer? guest: it was an extraordinary day. i remember watching on television and not quite the same but you knew when dr. king started to speak that history was being made, not only american history but rhetorical history. an aside was it was the first national speech by a very young man who had helped organize the day and if you go back and watch the entire event on youtube, you will see young, handsome john lewis introducing the proceedings in that unmistakable georgia patois he had and it is just fabulous, the same voice, same rich baritone voice he had. host: to tim out of minnesota, good morning, you are next. caller: hi, john.
9:43 pm
thinking about all of this, it reminds me of two books i read, black like me, uncle tom's cabin , and all god's children. that was by fox butterfield. you have had him on the floor -- on before. if you want to read something [indiscernible] i think these are the greatest books i've ever read. black, white, and me was a true story about a guy in the 50's who alters himself to look african-american, got away with it, and wrote down the differences. i think about it because people say, you know, slavery was here
9:44 pm
and gone, blah blah blah, and i do not believe the lasting effects of oppression disappear that easily, especially when there is just so much on acknowledgment of what happened to the black man. host: mr. holzer, take us back to 1922 and a some of those issues and how the nation was dealing with it at the dedication of the monument behind you. guest: well i would say principally the nation was not dealing with it. the wilson administration, which had proceeded warren harding's administration had very openly and unapologetically re-segregated the federal bureaucracy. any advances made in opening of
9:45 pm
federal jobs and agencies to employment and the right to rise in those jobs by african-americans was just thwarted and reversed by woodrow wilson. something some people do not often remember about his administration. warren harding was better on civil rights but if you do not allow your only black orator of the day to say what is in his heart and on his mind about lincoln's unfinished work, about the need to live up to his aspirations for equal justice, then you are still operating in an area of hypocrisy as mouton knew in his gut. so the nation was not yet ready to make strides, the jim crow era was upon us, confederate monuments were still rising in the former confederacy, and i think, looking back, and in my own work on this memorial, i
9:46 pm
focused on the arts, i focused on daniel because i wrote a biography of french and i think memorial itself focused on an incomplete american story. yes, sectional reunion was crucial to making america strong in the post-world war i era, leading up to the world war ii era. but making it strong for whom? that was a serious question that would remain unanswered until dr. king raised it forcefully again, standing under that statue saying the need go is still not free. 100 years after the promises were made and it was 100 years after the emancipation so it is a mixed emotion for me to think about 1922. they missed -- they disbelieved as we say in the journalism business but they did create a
9:47 pm
work of art and a building we can be grateful. host: one more historical note on may the 30th, 19 22, abraham lincoln's son attended the dedication ceremony. guest: he did. he was one of those bearded old white men on the top of the steps, edward markham the poet, robert lincoln, uncle joe cannon, the former speaker of the house who did not want the building built here, they were all up there. we all regret, lincolns students regret that robert had nothing to say the day. he was 79 years old, was not well, and had his personal physician with him, so i think he was worried about the effect of the day on his health. but he was there and that meant a lot i think in terms of the continuity of the lincoln family such it was that it would not last very long. host: gina is next calling in
9:48 pm
from montana as well, cascade, montana. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call. i was fortunate enough to visit the lincoln probably about 10 years ago and the only other place in washington that affected me as deeply as the lincoln memorial did was arlington cemetery. for me, very reverent, i was just moved so deeply by the lincoln memorial. part of the reason is i grew up in montana, went to a country school, i think there were eight students, and i remember clearly on the wall in our school was a picture of president washington and a picture of president lincoln. we studied both of those presidents deeply in country
9:49 pm
school, and i do not want to take anything away from the emancipation proclamation and the whole slavery issue. that was a pivotal point in american history, but one thing that affected my family deeply was the homestead act, which was also lincoln's stroke of a pen. because of that, my family now lives instead of ohio and missouri, we live in montana. for me it was very personal. i was just enthralled with the statue, huge he is, he is very real, and i've never felt so enthralled with a president in my life. i just wanted to say that. host: thanks for the call. mr. holzer. guest: that was very moving and very on point. we all want presidents to be
9:50 pm
able to focus on all areas of policy at once. while abraham lincoln was consumed with the civil war for every single day of his presidency after april 1861, it is true he had a domestic agenda other than military. he signed the homestead act which as you mentioned gave land to people willing to brave uncharted territory as his own parents had by moving westward to kentucky and indiana and then eastern illinois. he signed the transcontinental railroad act and advocated for linking both continents. he signed the land-grant grant college act which created so many higher learning opportunities for black and white americans, so it is not talked about often, but i'm glad you raised the homestead act and the other legislative
9:51 pm
innovations i mentioned were crucial to having a better country and return to one -- once peace had been restored. host: we talk about the lincoln memorial being a focal point for change movement and another moment in time, this is august 2010, it was radio tv personality glenn back's restoring honor rally at the lincoln memorial. here is about 40 seconds to show you the scene from that day. >> it brings you the truth every day -- he brings you the truth every day, now he brings you an effort to restore honor in america. ladies and gentlemen, glenn beck. [cheers and applause] >> hello, america.
9:52 pm
i have just gotten word from the media that there is over 1000 people here today. [cheering] host: and glenn back there poking fun at the media little bit. official estimates from the day around 100,000 or more people showed up at the lincoln memorial. harold hose or -- holzer on that event and more recent events at the lincoln memorial. guest: i guess part of me is still happy with the idea people find their inner lincoln and that they can rally around whatever part of lincoln inspired and appealed to them. glenn beck i know was a lincoln admirer. he borrowed the
9:53 pm
gettysburg address a few years ago for a pop-up museum and kind of got the museum into a heap of trouble. i guess behind that is an earnestness and a respect for lincoln, not my particular cup of tea but i would not to deny anyone the opportunity to rally here and find in this statue and building what makes america seem unique and appealing and irreplaceable to them. host: just about 10 minutes left with harold holzer, the lincoln form chair joining us on a warm morning from the west end of the national mall at the steps of the lincoln memorial. for folks who don't know, what is the lincoln form? guest: i'm glad you asked. it's a national organization that meets every november 16 through 18th in gettysburg, pennsylvania. you can find information about
9:54 pm
next november's forum on thelincolnforum.org, or getting in touch with me on my website, harold holzer --haroldholzer@ haroldholzer.com. we have dinners, lunches, breakfasts, great hotel we all meet at and the obvious of gettysburg to celebrate and soak in. we have been doing it for 27 consecutive years, one year on zoom only during the lockdown, and often recorded and broadcast by c-span, we are proud to say, but we would love people who are listening to get in touch with us and think about looking at our roster of speakers and heading to gettysburg in november. host: i don't know if you had a chance before you showed up for this interview to go up to the morrill itself, but the park service putting out a tweet this
9:55 pm
morning about having to close the memorial this morning or at least the inside of the memorial due to a graduation celebration at left broken bottles and champagne covering the steps, saying they are trying to clean up and reopen as soon as possible. did you happen to see any of that this morning? guest: we are fed up in the midst of broken whiskey bottles that have miraculously and quietly been cleaned up while we are broadcasting from here, but when we got here, the crew and producer and i looked around and said how did this happen? not because it was in our way, these guys can set up anywhere but it was sort of embarrassing that it was left this way, but they have done a good job. i have to say i did get the memorial yesterday for the first time in three years. i have not been to d.c. since covid began but i met yesterday
9:56 pm
with students from purdue university who are affiliated with the c-span center for communications at purdue in a tour led by none other than brian lamb who would be angry at me for mentioning his name. host: probably. guest: we had a wonderful student tour, probably but what the heck. we had a wonderful tour he let me lead with his terrific students. hope some of them are watching. i learned a lot from them, hearing their impression. we had a good look around, three quarters of the building -- look around three quarters of the building. then brian said come over here, that is the vice president's motorcade crossing the memorial bridge. we had a pretty exciting site on the memorial. i had a great visit and i will go up again today and tomorrow. i will be back at 10:00 a.m. for the rededication ceremony. people may wonder why we are not doing it on memorial day.
9:57 pm
the park service does not allow public events on memorial day. for fear it is disrespectful to veterans. it is peculiar because the lincoln memorial's dedicated on memorial day but so be it, we are happy to be here on may 22 and we will be here tomorrow morning. host: hopefully it will be cooler tomorrow morning as well. i'm for a couple more phone calls for you. this is steve in blacksburg, virginia on the line for those who have visited the memorial. caller: i had the privilege of visiting the memorial when i was about five years old and i'm 63 now. my father took our family down and we basically went all around the mall but i did see the lincoln memorial. it is pretty impressive. host: what impressed you the most as a five-year-old, stephen? caller: well, the statue of
9:58 pm
lincoln himself. host: and harold holzer, on that statue itself, you talk about how that statue and renderings of that statue have sort of taken the place of uncle sam in some ways in this country. going to show viewers one of those cartoons, the abraham lincoln with his hands covering his face, but ask plane that's a little bit. guest: that is bill malden's cartoon of the lincoln memorial weeping at the news of president kennedy's death and that really started the idea of using a malleable version of the memorial to express the national mood. or to influence the national mood. wink and had been portrayed on the small and cartoon as safe during the civil war so here he is returning as a national
9:59 pm
symbol, fist pumping barack obama, taking iphone pictures of joe biden, that kind of thing. i worry that i have not said enough about channel -- daniel chester french. he started this statue process with a 12 inch i model in clay, just out of the depths of his imagination, to create -- and he made very few changes as it expanded from a one foot model to a three foot model to a seven foot enlargement and i am ultimately carved by italian immigrants in the bronx named the peter really brothers. this was created in chester wood, his beautiful studio in the berkshires open to the public, open early this year because of this centennial, a wonderful place to visit. you can see his tools, models, the norman rockwell museum nearby has a special exhibit on the lincoln memorial.
10:00 pm
it came out of one artists inspirational hands. a combination of french's hands and lincoln's hands are the hands we see gripping the chair of state at the top there and it is just a remarkable work of art , still the grandest marble statue in the united states. and worth visiting for those who love american art and those who love american history. host: try to get one or two more phone calls. michael out of las vegas, good morning. caller: good morning, gentlemen. mr. holds her, i have been enjoying everything -- holzer, i have been enjoying everything you have been saying. i was a military brat and also visited the memorial when i was nine years old. there is an overall idea whether it is for young people or for
10:01 pm
older people, there is something about visiting the memorial in the nighttime in the hubbub of the day and traffic, ok, and you have more light and it is nice to come and see, but when the commotion of the city quiets down and now things are peaceful, there is the circle drive around the memorial, the planners and designers really just created something transcendent. you find the place to park and you take the steps in your group grows more and more quiet as he reached the top step and there is the city, dark with the highlights of the national mall, and you turn and go in, my goodness. it really somehow someway by accident or design it all came together for that structure and i do not care what your color,
10:02 pm
persuasion, creed, all that good stuff, there is a reference there, and it truly is a temple. the trash listening as i heard about the trash, it transcends that even, in my view. you are always going to have pigs, but doesn't that say something also, in a way, i don't know if i'm making a clear, but while you talk about a place that is for all people, i'm so happy to see this centennial celebration. i cannot believe 1922 it is already 100 years. host: thanks for that call. i will give you the final minute here. guest: stay tuned if you cannot get here for the actual event, c-span will be recording it here it i'm sure it will be on american history tv at some point. i tend to agree about the celebrants, it is a lot choir at -- quieter and cleaner so i can
10:03 pm
be less aggrieved about the bottles and glass but it is for everybody. if people are celebrating their liberation from lockdown by having an outdoor graduation ceremony and having fun, maybe some of them misbehave, not everybody or it would have been worse, and they are doing so in the shadow, in the majestic shadow of this statue that martin luther king jr. describes so beautifully, i think it is wonderful. i hope they got a chance to read the words because we can celebrate everything great about america, which we do, but there is still -- there are still those two words inscribed in the gettysburg address next to the statue. "unfinished work." i made it down like -- i made it sound like three works but it is two. we have miles to go and doing it in the glow of the statue is perhaps the best way and most inspiring way to proceed. host: harold holzer, lincoln formed chair, author of the book and many books but in particular
10:04 pm
"monument man, the life and art of daniel chester french." thank you for joining us on such a warm morning this morning froo this evening performance and talkback of meet james for an exciting original play commissioned from playwright mercer kennedy by the museum khalil williams who i'm joined by is the founder of black history maven a longtime collaborate with the museum in our living history projects our diversify living history initiative and after the performance, i'm gonna vacate my seat give it up to mike idris, who is the museum's african-american interpretive fellow lifelong, philadelphia, and who was really the the brains behind this incredible play. they're gonna see the historical advisor on this piece written by marissa kennedy, which you'll see performed

16 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on