Ah, the joys of a long holiday weekend! Having our original plans dashed last-minute, Spacecowboy and I quickly researched and scheduled some spontaneity. Yes, I realize that sounds like a contradiction “scheduling spontaneity” which it is, but my sweet husband craves structure so we re-grouped and headed out to honor one of our country’s most beloved presidents (on Valentine’s Day no less), President Abraham Lincoln at his Memorial Shrine in Redlands, CA. I had learned of this spot a few months earlier and had been hankering (love this word!) for a visit ever since.
You are probably thinking, “Lincoln and Redlands, California…huh? Lincoln never set foot in California.” We have Robert Watchorn, an Englishman who immigrated to America in 1880 and became a part-time resident of Redlands, California to thank for this beautiful memorial. Mr Watchorn was drawn to Lincoln’s rags to riches story which exemplified the “American dream” — something he strived to achieve too (and did so successfully).
We pulled up to the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, put on a little more sunscreen (the car’s outside temperature gauge was reading 86 degrees F), and turned off the radio that was reporting more winter storms for the east. The etched limestone walls and park grounds were beckoning as we parked our car.
Upon entering, we were enthusiastically greeted by a docent who quickly placed us in the hands of a highly energetic tour guide (he even played the parts of various characters of the time!). From him we learned about:
- The “Angel Dome” — This octagonal dome is the centerpiece of the original Lincoln Memorial Shrine and it is surrounded by eight angels of virtue connected together by their wings.
- The “War Quilt” — These were given to each union soldier before they left to fight in the civil war. Each square was made and signed by a woman then stitched together to make a blanket for the soldiers to have a piece of home with them wherever they went. Most were burned after the war making the one on display a real treasure.
- Lincoln’s Bust — The one on display is one of only two made from this bust. The other was buried in France during World War 2. It was buried so well that it has never been found which makes this one quite valuable.
The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is free to the public and offers a personal glimpse into President Lincoln and, perhaps even more, the civil war. I recommend taking the guided tour as you will learn details otherwise overlooked. One example of this is with their Norman Rockwell painting — can you see all the suggestive details hidden in it?