The D.C. Heritage Tourism Coalition thanks Paul Brookman for a good catch [letters, Feb. 8]. The history in our "Civil War to Civil Rights: Downtown Heritage Trail," which features 21 exhibit-style signs and banners, would not be complete without its villains as well as its heroes. However, we understand that banners, unlike signs, may be perceived as celebrating rather than educating, and we take Mr. Brookman's point that Lincoln's New York Avenue Presbyterian Church is not the best place for a banner with John Wilkes Booth's picture.
Just as the information Mr. Brookman cites about President Lincoln's church comes from our sign, another sign with information about Booth marks the F Street alley near Ninth Street through which Booth fled after shooting the president at Ford's Theatre. It is all part of our history, but the banner should have a better place. And it will.
KATHRYN S. SMITH
D.C. Heritage Tourism Coalition
One might object on aesthetic grounds to the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln with his son Tad, proposed for Richmond [Metro, Feb. 11], because it appears to be something of an imitation of Gutzon Borglum's 1911 Lincoln seated on a stone bench in Newark, which is depicted in smaller replicas all over the world. However, I object on historical grounds.
In April 1865 Lincoln came to the fallen capital of the Confederacy, holding his young son by the hand. The African Americans of the city greeted him as a liberator. "As if upon the wings of lightening," wrote black correspondent Thomas Morris Chester, the news spread that the liberator "had come."
"Glory to God! Glory! Glory! Glory!" the people shouted. At one point an old man with tears in his eyes stopped before Lincoln, raised his hat and bowed. The president removed his own hat and bowed silently in return.
This is the moment the Richmond sculpture should portray. As another reporter noted: "It was a bow which upset forms, laws, customs and ceremonies of centuries."
Director, Civil War Institute