Friday, December 27, 2002

Lincoln statue won't be embraced by all

The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. - Abraham Lincoln is returning to the capital of the Confederacy, much to the chagrin of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Five days before the Civil War ended in April 1865, the president and his youngest child, Tad, traveled to still-smoldering Richmond soon after Southern forces abandoned the city in flames. On April 5, 2003, the 138th anniversary of that visit, a bronze statue of the pair commissioned by the United States Historical Society will be unveiled at the Civil War Visitor Center of the National Park Service.

"Here is a national hero, a small boy, and a beautiful city by the James River, all united again," said Robert Kline, chairman of the nonprofit group society, which works on behalf of museums and other groups on projects of historic and artistic value. "This time Lincoln's in Richmond for all time."

Richmond, home to towering statues of Confederacy figures including Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, was abandoned after Union forces led by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant attacked on April 2, 1965.

The Sons of Confederate Veterans view the Lincoln statue as "a slap in the face of a lot of brave men and women who went through four years of unbelievable hell fighting an invasion of Virginia led by President Lincoln," Brag Bowling, the SCV Virginia commander, said Thursday. The group had only recently learned of the statue, and had no immediate plans to protest.

The life-size statue by sculptor David Frech will show Lincoln and his son on a bench against a granite wall. The words "To Bind Up The Nation's Wounds" will be etched into a capstone.

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