Apart from having seen Lincoln Memorial on US coins and the $5 bill, I had walked past the memorial on several occasions. On a freezing day in February, I decided to re-visit and pay closer attention to this important monument. When I approach from the north, and walk around the white building, I spot fences on the eastern side: it turns out works are being carried out. Once at the base of the monument, I get a close look at the rectangular building with its classic, Greek feel, with its characteristic Doric columns, giving it the look of a temple. I have a better look at the friezes. On the lower one, the 36 states in the Union during Lincoln's presidency are listed, while the upper frieze contains the 48 states of the Union at the time of the inauguration of the monument in 1922.
When I walk around the southern side of the monument, the familiar view of the National Mall comes into sight: the needle of the Obelisk, the reflecting pool and, a little further away, the dome of the Capitol. I walk the wide steps taking me up to the shrine itself. I now see that there are works underway here as well: it is not possible to walk the platform surrounding the monument. I walk into the large hall, where Abraham Lincoln looks down on me, and the others around me, with a serious face, his arms resting on the armrest of his giant chair. On the north and south side, I find quotes of famous speeches of the 16th President: his second inaugural speech and his Gettysburg address. Below the monument, I find a small museum where more quotes from famous speeches are represented, as well as some more information about the significance of Lincoln for overcoming the racial divide within the US. It is no coincidence, then, that Martin Luther King delivered his famous I have a Dream speech on the steps of Lincoln Memorial; in fact, the exact spot where he stood while delivering his speech is marked with an engraving of those words.
After warming up in the museum, it is time to go outside again. I walk down the steps towards the Reflecting Pool, and then around the water to see the Lincoln Memorial reflected. When I turn around at the far side, the classic building suddenly looks small. There are few other people around, braving the cold. Back at the steps of the monument, I notice the sun disappearing behind it, and walk to the other side again. The last rays of sunlight turn the white monument pink. After warming up again in the museum, the dark blue light outside is turning black, and the spotlights turn the columns bright white again. The memorial now stands out in the night, which somehow makes it seem even bigger than it already is. Inside, the statue of Abraham Lincoln looks very solemn now. I walk back to the far side of the Reflecting Pool, where I see the bright monument doubled in the water. Even nearly a hundred years after its inauguration, Lincoln Memorial still stands strong as one of the most remarkable buildings of the capital city.
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