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Lincoln birthplace memorial celebrates centennial

By Amber Coulter

Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 3:06 am (Updated: November 15, 3:58 am)

Rabbi Joseph Rapport opened a prayer by saying five score years ago the first memorial to President Abraham Lincoln was created.

NDescription: <div class="source">Neal Cardin</div><div class="image-desc">President William Howard Taft, portrayed by Dale Liikala of Mentor, Ohio, descends the steps of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hall on Monday during a centennial celebration of the opening of the building. President Taft was the featured speaker 100 years ago.</div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2newbuyphoto.cgi?pub=053&amp;orig=1114memorial1.jpg" target="_new">Buy this photo</a></div>eal Cardin

President William Howard Taft, portrayed by Dale Liikala of Mentor, Ohio, descends the steps of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hall on Monday during a centennial celebration of the opening of the building. President Taft was the featured speaker 100 years ago.

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Description: <div class="source">Neal Cardin</div><div class="image-desc">Members of the LaRue County Band of Hawks play "Hail to the Chief" as the official party, including President Taft as portrayed by Dale Liikala, walks to the podium during Monday's centennial celebration.</div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2newbuyphoto.cgi?pub=053&amp;orig=1114memorial2.jpg" target="_new">Buy this photo</a></div>Neal Cardin

Members of the LaRue County Band of Hawks play "Hail to the Chief" as the official party, including President Taft as portrayed by Dale Liikala, walks to the podium during Monday's centennial celebration.

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Description: <div class="source">Neal Cardin</div><div class="image-desc">Abraham Lincoln Elementary School students and visitors gather under the tents Monday for the centennial celebration of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace.</div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2newbuyphoto.cgi?pub=053&amp;orig=1114memorial3.jpg" target="_new">Buy this photo</a></div>

Neal Cardin

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School students and visitors gather under the tents Monday for the centennial celebration of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace.

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Description: <div class="source">Neal Cardin</div><div class="image-desc">President William Howard Taft, played by Dale Liikala, talks with a visitor Monday after the centennial celebration of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace. Liikala read Taft's speech from the original dedication.</div><div class="buy-pic"><a href="http://www.lcni5.com/cgi-bin/c2newbuyphoto.cgi?pub=053&amp;orig=1114memorial4.jpg" target="_new">Buy this photo</a></div>Neal Cardin

President William Howard Taft, played by Dale Liikala, talks with a visitor Monday after the centennial celebration of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace. Liikala read Taft's speech from the original dedication.

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The structure loomed behind the man as he led a prayer beginning a ceremony observing the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln Memorial Monday at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park near Hodgenville.

Rapport represented a temple in Louisville, which was home to the rabbi who took part in the memorial’s dedication 100 years ago. A priest closed the ceremony, representing a church that also had participated in the dedication.

Rapport said the memorial is a symbol of the origins of a president who faced great difficulties and people’s desire to remember him.

“What was for them still a memory has become for us our history,” he said.

The ceremony included representatives from state congressmen and Gov. Steve Beshear and the entire fourth grade from Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Hodgenville, which is studying state history.

Teacher Jackie Harley hoped students will remember being at the memorial during the centennial and being part of that step in history.

State Rep. Michael Meredith said he was glad the class came.

“Our history is only our history if we share it with the next generation,” he said.

Meredith said he was glad the memorial commemorates a man who was a strong leader in dealing with some of the same issues that government officials still deal with today, such as states’ rights.

“The history of our 16th president is the history of a nation,” he said.

Marcheta Sparrow, Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet secretary, said she was impressed by the hard work of Kentucky residents to preserve Lincoln’s memory in a simple and almost hallowed way.

“I think that is a true and fitting tribute to President Lincoln,” she said.

Sparrow said the state clearly had an impact on Lincoln, as leaders’ earliest memories always effect them.

“This memorial is more than just a tourist stop on a map,” she said.

The memorial houses a replica of the home Thomas, Nancy, Sarah and Abraham Lincoln lived in.

The family had lived there a year when Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, and stayed there until forced to leave in 1811 after a dispute over the title to the land.

The Lincoln Farm Association was formed and began raising money for a memorial after the land was sold at public auction following the owner’s bankruptcy. The group raised almost $350,000 with donations between 25 cents and $25.

The 56 steps leading up to the memorial represent the president’s age when he died. The 16 rosettes, windows and posts surrounding the replica cabin represent his spot in the progression of presidents.

President Theodore Roosevelt laid the memorial’s cornerstone on the centennial anniversary of Lincoln’s birth and President William Howard Taft delivered a dedication speech for the structure in November 1911.

Dale Liikala of Mentor, Ohio, dressed as Taft on Monday to deliver the president’s speech from the dedication.

He read, “It is eminently appropriate that the farm where Lincoln was born should come into public possession, and should have erected on it, a suitable memorial in which to preserve mementos of his personality and biographies of his life.”

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.

 

Taft presenter to repeat historic speech today in Hodgenville

Ceremony honors 100th anniversary of Lincoln Memorial Building's dedication

By Linda Ireland

Friday, November 11, 2011 at 11:11 am (Updated: November 14, 6:56 am)

It’s not unusual to see a Lincoln presenter or impersonator visiting LaRue County. Those tall, lanky, melancholy men with their topcoats and stovepipe hats are a fixture during Lincoln Days, the annual festival honoring native son Abraham Lincoln.

The upcoming celebration of the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial Building will feature a visit from a very different presenter: President William Howard Taft.

Taft presenter Dale Liikala will deliver the keynote address at 1 p.m. Monday at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park.

Liikala is part of an Ohio troupe: “We Made History: Presidential Living Historians.”

“I’ve never crossed paths with any other Taft portrayers before, but I do believe there are one or two others,” said Liikala, a 53-year-old graphic designer in his “day” job. “I’d love to meet them and compare notes.”

The 40-year veteran of community theater – musicals, comedies and drama – has been portraying Taft for three years at community events, Civil War roundtables and schools.

Liikala noted the similarities between himself and Taft: Their age, size (about 6-feet 4-inches, 300 pounds) and athleticism (Taft enjoyed horseback riding and baseball. Liikala enjoys skiing and bicycling.). They were born 100 years apart.

“I’ve been growing my mustache the past three years to more closely resemble Taft’s bushy, and at times, handlebar mustache,” Liikala said.

Usually during presentations, Liikala focuses on the unique qualities Taft brought to the presidency: He was the first president to be driven by automobile to his inauguration; he is the only president to serve as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; he got stuck in the White House bathtub and had to be assisted by six aides (he had a new bathtub installed measuring 4-feet by 7-feet); he was the first president to throw out a ceremonial pitch to begin the major league baseball season; and was the first president to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery (John F. Kennedy is the other).

On Monday, he will deliver the same speech that Taft gave at the Memorial’s dedication 100 years ago. He considers it an honor, he said.

It is the first time he has given that particular speech and the first time to visit the Park, he added.

“In his address, Mr. Taft demonstrates how Abraham Lincoln pulled himself up from the poverty of his youth to become one of the most influential Americans in history; a feat made possible through his abilities to reason out the correctness of the issues at hand and stand up to his adversaries,” Liikala said.

For more information on Liikala, visit www.wemadehistory.com.

 

Abraham Lincoln Birthplace News Release

 Abraham Lincoln Birthplace Announces Memorial Building Centennial Event

 HODGENVILLE On November 14, 2011, at 1:00 P.M.EST, Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park will celebrate the centennial of the first Lincoln Memorial built to honor the nation’s 16th President. A program of music and speakers designed to recapture the sentiment of the Lincoln Farm Association and a grateful nation will be presented. Renditions of “Dixie” and “My Old Kentucky Home” will be performed by the Larue County High School Band. Speeches will be presented by park Superintendent William Justice and William H. Taft re-enactor Dale Liikala of Mentor, Ohio. Mr. Liikala will present the historic dedication speech delivered by President Taft on November 9, 1911.   

The Neo-Classic style Memorial Building at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park was designed by John Russell Pope and constructed between 1909 and 1911 to enshrine the “birth cabin” of Abraham Lincoln. The cornerstone of the building was laid by President Theodore Roosevelt during a ceremony on February 12, 1909, and President William H. Taft delivered the dedication speech on November 9, 1911, to an audience of 3,000 people. Members of the Lincoln Farm Association resolved to honor and preserve the rural site near Hodgenville, Kentucky where Abraham Lincoln was born and that resolve continues today with the National Park Service.

 All events at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park are free and open to the public. For more information telephone the park at 270-358-3137 or visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/abli.

 

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