National Observance: See ‘Lincoln’ on Abe’s birthday

President Lincoln in the 1860s.Did you know? Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday in 1865.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12: Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Kentucky.

Most Americans are familiar with his birthday, because it shows up on calendars every year—but it has never been a national holiday. A handful of states, including Illinois, officially observe Lincoln’s birthday, but efforts to honor the 16th President with a national holiday were frustrated for many decades by Southern opposition.

Today, efforts to honor Lincoln nationwide are focused on making the third Monday in February “President’s Day.” Again, many Americans assume that President’s Day now is a national holiday and honors both Washington and Lincoln—but the U.S. Congress never officially made that declaration. The third Monday in February still is nationally designated as “Washington’s Birthday.” The wrangling over these holidays is long and complex, but Southern animosity toward Lincoln extended well into the 20th Century.


It was a frigid day in Washington, D.C., several decades ago, when a 6-year-old Steven Spielberg was so intimidated by the massive Lincoln Memorial that he almost missed a life-changing experience. New York Times reports: The young Steven was so scared he didn’t want to look the statue in the eyes. “Then, just before I left, I dared myself to look up into his face and suddenly felt like we were in some way related,” he said. “It was a very familiar feeling, a very warm feeling, and I felt very safe and protected just at a glance. That,” he added, “was an image never forgotten.”

And thus, the spark arose for Spielberg’s newest film, “Lincoln.” Already nominated for 12 Oscars, the Spielberg drama adapts a small portion of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals.

Lincoln’s popularity seems to be rising, again, and a good way to demonstrate continued public respect for him is to go see Spielberg’s film—and tell friends about it. (Get more details on Lincoln’s life from White

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