The Washington Post

Overheard at the Lincoln Memorial on a Saturday night

(Ian Livingston)

Even if you aren’t trying to eavesdrop, it is impossible not to overhear other people talking at the Lincoln Memorial when it is late on a Saturday night and the site is packed with people — mostly tourists — who are visiting the magnificent marble monument for the first time and are visibly astounded by its majesty. Here are some snippets of conversation overheard in a five-minute period during a visit Saturday, Aug. 16, at 10:30 p.m.:

*”No, no, Forrest Gump was a fictional character,” said a mother walking down the stairs of the monument with a child not older than 10. (In the film “Forrest Gump,” the lead character attends an anti-Vietnam War protest at the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial and apparently the child was expecting to see him there.)

*”The fourscore thing is over here,” a teenager said to two of his friends as he pointed to the Gettysburg Address carved into the marble on one side of the interior chamber. They turned and started walking to the opposing wall of the chamber and the same young man said, “And there’s the inaugural thing,” a reference Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which had been carved into the marble.


(By SAUL LOEB/ Getty Images)
(Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

*Some teenagers were eagerly taking pictures of the spot on the floor where Martin Luther King Jr. stood and where it is engraved. An older man watching them said, “That’s a good thing to see these days.”

*A woman looking to be in her 40s approached the first of the 57 steps to the monument, looked up, and as other people swept past her and started bounding up the stairs, she said, “Is there an alternative way to get there?”

*A boy no older than 4 stared at the 19-foot-high, 120-ton statue of Lincoln for a good minute and then said to his mother, “He looks so real, mom.” She knew just what he meant and said, “Yes, he does.”

*A woman took some pictures of Lincoln with her camera, checked the results and declared that they were all blurry. Her friend said, “That’s no good. You can’t take blurry pictures of Abe.”

*One man looking to be in his early ’50s gazed up at the towering statue of Lincoln and said, “Abe, the country’s a mess. We could really use you right about now.”




Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



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Valerie Strauss · August 16, 2014

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