April 19, 2005 was a great day for the citizens of Illinois and a great day for anyone around the world who believes in freedom and equality.
"And here in the place he called home, Springfield, Illinois, we proudly dedicate the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum." With these words, President George W. Bush officially dedicated the presidential library and museum for the person who’s regularly acknowledged as our nation’s greatest president.
Abraham Lincoln, who guided the United States through the worst threat to our national unity, is said to be the second most written about person in the history of the world, standing only behind Jesus Christ. Lincoln artifacts and memorabilia have been scattered about the globe since his time, yet there’s never been a single location where the story of Lincoln could be told. With the opening of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, we now have a world-class facility that allows the greatest access to Lincoln’s life and legacy for scholars and citizens of the world.
The dedication day of this museum was long in coming-too long, in fact. But the opening of this facility represents the best virtues of the citizens of our country and those who are elected to represent them.
This institution came about because of the hard work of so many people who believed in the merit of this project. Private citizens, public officials, corporate executives, an army of volunteers, and a community and state that wraps its arms around Abraham Lincoln and refuses to let go-that’s the reason we were able to build the greatest presidential library for our greatest president.
This facility started as a modest dream of people who believed our 16th president-and the favorite son of our state-deserved a facility where the people of the world could come to learn about the story of Lincoln and the message of equality and freedom.
And it isn’t just the impact this facility will have on people who visit, but also the impact visitors will have on Springfield. It’s fully expected the library and museum will have a great economic impact on not only Springfield, but on all of the Lincoln-related sites in our state. Throughout Illinois, we have an abundance of Lincoln history, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will promote these areas to visitors. That includes sites such as the historic Metamora Courthouse and the site Lincoln gave his famous Peoria Speech.
Visitors to the museum are in for a wonderful experience. Through a combination of 21st century technology and 19th century artifacts, the real Abraham Lincoln comes to life. I’m not sure what’s more awe-inspiring: to see Abraham Lincoln come to life through technology or to be able to view the Gettysburg Address written in Lincoln’s own hand. I encourage everyone to make the trek to Springfield to visit the museum, and I especially encourage children to tour the facility. The story of Lincoln told through this exhibit is just incredible.
This museum and library are more than a shrine or memorial for Abraham Lincoln; this is a living, breathing extension of the life and lessons of Lincoln for all the people of the world. This is a facility "for the people."
As President Bush said at the dedication, "The mission of this library is essential to our country, because to understand the life and the sacrifice of Abraham Lincoln is to understand the meaning and promise of America." IBI