Park Service Calls Lincoln Memorial Vandalism ‘Devastating'
At 10:13 a.m Friday, July 26th, a policeman began taking down the yellow crime-scene tape at the Lincoln Memorial, and a wave of visitors surged up the steps to see the damage.
The upper chamber, where the 120-ton statue of Abraham Lincoln has sat for 91 years, was still roped off. But the people could see the pale-green paint splattered on the left pant leg and the bottom of the frock coat.
But the statue was solid as always. The right foot, in a square-toe boot, slightly forward. The left hand closed. The white marble face, devoid of the ravages that the Civil War etched on the human face, looked east out over the Mall.
The hallowed memorial was fully reopened at 6:30 p.m., many hours after someone splashed paint on the statue overnight and fled.
The National Park Service said it was the first time that the majestic memorial was vandalized since its dedication in 1922 in the presence of Lincoln’s son, Robert. It was closed briefly after the 2011 earthquake.
U.S. Park Police said they had opened an investigation but had no suspects. The police said the memorial is guarded during the overnight hours but declined to go into detail.
The Lincoln statue was the work of Daniel Chester French (April 20, 1850 – October 7, 1931), one of the most prolific and acclaimed American sculptors of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
With Congressional approval and a $300,000 allocation, the project got underway. On February 12, 1914, a dedication ceremony was conducted and following month the actual construction began. Work progressed steadily according to schedule. Some changes were made to the plan. The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, was enlarged to 19 feet (5.8 m) to prevent it from being overhelmed by the huge chamber. As late as 1920, the decision was made to substitute an open portal for the bronze and glass grille which was to have guarded the entrance. Despite these changes, the Memorial was finished on schedule. Commission president William H. Taft – who was then Chief Justice of the United States – dedicated the Memorial on May 30, 1922 and presented it to President Warren G. Harding, who accepted it on behalf of the American people. Lincoln's only surviving son, 79-year-old Robert Todd Lincoln, was in attendance.