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Washington's Official Lincoln Celebration To Begin Feb. 12

We have heard about it for more than a year, and finally the celebration marking the actual 200th birthday of the 16th President on Feb. 12 is almost here. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, established by Congress, began sponsoring events a year ago on what was Lincoln's 199th birthday anniversary. The official celebration will continue through 2010.

Most of the commission's events in Washington are open to the public but there is a breakfast that will cost participants a hefty $125. All are scheduled at government buildings or memorials, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending by mid-afternoon.

8 a.m.--The annual wreath-laying at the Lincoln Memorial may be attended by President Obama. Poet Nikki Giovanni will recite her own work commemorating the Bicentennial, and singer Michael Feinstein will perform his interpretation of the National Anthem, accompanied by the U.S. Marine Band. A group of Washington D.C. children will accompany Lincoln scholar Frank J. Williams in reciting the Gettysburg Address. Free admission.

9:15 a.m.--Breakfast at a heated tent in West Potomac Park, adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial, for those with $125 tickets, which were still available on Feb.4. Proceeds will benefit the on-going work of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Foundation.

11:30 a.m.--At the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the House and Senate will pay tribute to Lincoln, accompanied by historians Doris Kearns Goodwin and Richard Norton Smith. All the tickets for this free event have been taken, but some may be added on a stand-by basis. Contact the commission.

1 p.m.--The Library of Congress will open its Bicentennial exhibit, titled "With Malice Toward None," in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building. The exhibit includes documents. photos, letters, speeches, campaign artifacts and other rarely seen holdings from the library's collection. Free admission.

1:30 p.m.--At the National Archives Building, the Commission holds a national teach-in on the life and legacy of Lincoln, which will be Webcast live. Lincoln scholars Kearns Goodwin, Matthew Pinsker and Harold Holzer will speak on Lincoln and answer students' questions. More than 3,000 schools have signed up to participate and more can still join in as late as1:15 p.m. on Feb 12.

By Linda Wheeler  |  February 4, 2009; 10:39 AM ET
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