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Statue of Lincoln unveiled

Published Friday, June 30, 2006

A 9-foot-tall statue of Abraham Lincoln was unveiled Thursday afternoon during an informal ceremony in Union Square Park .

The statue, created by Decatur artist John McClary, depicts Lincoln facing east toward Washington, bracing himself against the wind. With his right hand, Lincoln holds his coat closed. His left hand is extended in a welcoming gesture.

The bronze figure, which stands atop a pedestal that extends the total height of the piece to about 13 feet, balances Lincoln's tenacity with his compassion, said McClary, who unveiled the statue himself.

"He is grasping his coat against the weather, but it is also a symbol of his commitment to the Constitution," McClary said. "His other hand is open - his willingness to appeal to the American people."

The front of the pedestal includes an inscription taken from Lincoln's first inaugural address. It reads: "Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world?"

McClary, 70, ended up sculpting a different statue than the one he agreed to when he was offered the contract under Gov. George Ryan's administration, about five years ago.

Initially, McClary was going to show Lincoln digging with a shovel. He wanted to call it "Groundbreaking for Freedom."

"I liked it a whole lot, but with the new administration coming in - during the process, you meet with a lot of different people - I had to start all over again. But I'm very pleased," he said.

Although the process, from conception to completion, took five years, McClary said making the statue took about one year.

McClary was paid approximately $240,000 for his work, according to Dave Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which oversees the park.

Union Square Park, across from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum on Sixth Street, is expected to open Saturday. The statue is at the southeast corner.

Pete Sherman can be reached at 788-1539 or

Reader Comments

Please... wrote at 6/30/2006 7:06:26 AM

Good Lord, Springfield, let that poor man rest!! Lincoln must be rollin' in his grave! How many nickels can you milk out of one dead president??

Lincolned Out!! wrote at 6/30/2006 7:58:36 AM

I agree with Please... Enough of Lincoln! Looking for Lincoln?? He's buried in Spfld. It's over! Doesn't Illinois something else the can show pride in or attract tourist to, other than a dead president? Gheesh! Are you trying to save the capital city? Our Governor done blew that! Even Taylorville.....Lincoln and a statue of a pig???? And they are not even the capital. You would think they would have something to be proud of on their own city. Those $ could have been well spent where they needed to be! We have people.....needless to what the Governor says....who are losing their jobs. Get real! Instead of having your nose in the air and touring Lincoln Presidential Library Museum and now the Union Square more productive and creative. I travel out of state !!

1/4 mill waste wrote at 6/30/2006 8:00:56 AM

what a joke! total waste of money...take the 240k and give it to the homeless!!!!!!

Ticked wrote at 6/30/2006 8:01:39 AM

Yeah I agree with Please! And to pay some guy 240,000 to make a statue? Geez, I could think of better ways to spend that kind of money. Yeah he is a legend, Lincoln is and the history of him is great but doesn't this state think that the new library, which people get charged to go into, and all the other hystorical monuments we have of him good enough! Us poor tax payers pay enough in this state, why do we need yet another statue or monument of another dead presedint? 240,000??? Goodness no wonder this state is so poor and most of the people in it poor!!!

Enough wrote at 6/30/2006 8:14:25 AM

No one is going to debate that Lincoln was a great man, did great things and is the pride and job of Springfield. But it's like we're saying NOTHING else ever happened here and NO ONE else was ever a Springfieldian who deserved recognition. Come on enough is enough.

historian wrote at 6/30/2006 8:18:57 AM

While I agree that "Lincoln-mania" has struck central Illinois rather hard lately, I still think it's important to remember his life and what he did for this area and our country. It is part of history, and we must learn from history so that we can do better in the future. PS..Lincoln'd out, a lot of people come from other states and even other countries to see our Lincoln sites. I work at Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site in the summers, and we get people who are from all over the world who come just to see the site where Lincoln studied law.

good2go wrote at 6/30/2006 8:35:55 AM

I still wonder why they had to add "Abraham Lincoln" to the name of our airport, and the Renaissance downtown is now the "Lincoln-something" hotel, isn't it? Next thing you know, we'll have Lake Abe instead of Lake Springfield.

Whitmore wrote at 6/30/2006 8:36:47 AM

Lincoln was an inspiring man. Too bad all he inspires the city to do is try and bank in on him to get tourist $$$$$. Wouldn't it be great if we had something in Springfield that made it worthy of visiting beside overdone Abe sites? So, when do get our cheesy Abe Linclon theme park? It's probably already being budgeted.

To historian wrote at 6/30/2006 8:39:13 AM

You're right we should remember Lincoln and learn from him. But what we shouldn't be doing is cashing in on him, which is all we've been doing. If I'm wrong then why are we always hearing about how great the museum is and all the tourist revenue it brings in?

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