below, release from Durbin office....
DURBIN, SECRETARY SALAZAR HONOR ABRAHAM LINCOLN ON THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BIRTH
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee, and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln at a ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial that marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of our 16th president.
"Our Founders wrote that we are all endowed with an inalienable right to liberty, but they could not reconcile their noble ideals with the ignoble practice of slavery," said Durbin, who is co-chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. "It was Abraham Lincoln who helped give meaning to our national creed of 'liberty and justice for all.' He is the central figure in our history -- a truly indispensible American. His leadership and unyielding commitment to the principles enshrined in our Declaration of Independence not only preserved the Union, but created a new nation, as he said, 'worthy of the saving.'"
"Abraham Lincoln is not only one of the greatest presidents, he is in many ways the definition of what it means to be an American," Salazar said. "His courage, his humility, his faith, his commitment to freedom and justice and his belief in a nation 'of the people, by the people and for the people' shine as a beacon over our history."
Durbin and Salazar were joined at the Memorial by Harold Holzer, co-chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Honorable Scott Stuckey, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Services, singer and pianist Michael Feinstein, and poet Nikki Giovanni. The Honorable Frank Williams, retired chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court read the Gettysburg Address with students from Strong John Thomson Elementary School.
Salazar noted the symbolic significance of the Lincoln Memorial in American history. "It is no coincidence that when Americans have gathered to either celebrate our liberty or to demand that America live up to her ideals to become a more perfect union, they have come to this place -- the place where Marian Anderson sang and where Martin Luther King dreamed," he said.
The Department of the Interior's National Park Service is hosting a number of events today and throughout the coming year to commemorate the anniversary at parks, historic sites and battlefields associated with Lincoln across the nation. These sites include Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois, Ford's Theatre National Historic Site in Washington, D.C, Gettysburg National Battlefield in Pennsylvania and Mount Rushmore National Monument in South Dakota.
The National Park Service has developed a web site for the public that will help provide a better understanding and appreciation for Abraham Lincoln. The public can log on to the Celebrate the Bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's Birth website at: http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/lincoln200/index.html, In addition to a list of national park sites, the web site includes information and web links to books, photographs and documents related to Abraham Lincoln, as well as a link to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, which was created by Congress to organize the nation's observance of the anniversary.