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Kentucky Signature Events:  Lincoln Bicentennial Kick-Off

February 11-12, 2008

“I, too, am a Kentuckian.” Abraham Lincoln, 1861

February 11, 2008 – Louisville, KY

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial launched its Bicentennial celebrations in Kentucky, where Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809.  ALBC Commissioner Tommy Turner of Kentucky served as chairman for his state’s inaugural events. Linda and Jerry Bruckheimer served as honorary co-chairmen of the concert gala and national opening ceremonies.

The first day’s events featured the “Lincoln on Leadership Symposium,” in partnership with the McConnell Center, in the Beaux Arts Ballroom of The Henry Clay in Louisville.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin discussed Lincoln’s leadership in a keynote that preceded a panel discussion that included Goodwin; her husband, Richard Goodwin, presidential advisor and writer; Gerald Smith, director of African American Studies, and history professor Thomas Mackey, both of the University of Louisville. ALBC Commissioner Frank J. Williams served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

That evening, the ALBC also hosted “A Kentucky Salute to Abraham Lincoln” in Whitney Hall of the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville. ALBC Co-Chairman Harold Holzer Actor Sam Waterston and performed and illustrated their acclaimed production, “Lincoln Seen and Heard,” a narrated, dramatic presentation of Lincoln’s life and words. An arts program followed with soprano Angela Brown performing selections from the opera “Margaret Garner” and the Louisville Orchestra’s premiere of a new Lincoln work, “Lincoln at Ease,” narrated by Bob Edwards and composed by Peter Schickele. Bob Edwards, a noted National Public Radio broadcaster and Louisville native, served as master of ceremonies for the evening’s activities.

Follow this link for the complete program from Kentucky’s Salute to Abraham Lincoln

February 12, 2008 – Hodgenville, KY

“The Official National Opening Ceremony” was planned for the next morning at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in nearby Hodgenville.  However, Mother Nature intervened and an overnight ice storm canceled the inaugural ceremony.  First Lady Laura Bush was scheduled to deliver the keynote address formally launching the nation’s two-year celebration of Lincoln’s life and legacy.

Saxton’s Cornet Band, Everett McCorvey, and the American Spiritual Ensemble were to provide music.

Other scheduled speakers included:  Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY), ALBC co-chair Harold Holzer, Actor Sam Waterston narrating the Gettysburg Address, and LaRue County Judge and national ALBC Commissioner Tommy Turner as the master of ceremonies.

On March 4, 2008, the ALBC launched Virtual Hodgenville. Visitors can read remarks from the scheduled speakers and listen to the music that had been planned for the inaugural celebrations.