U.S. Secretary of the Interior Salazar Helps Re-Open Ford’s Theater, Cites the Importance of Site to President Obama and Nation

Ford's Theater

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today joined
leaders of the Ford’s Theater Society, the National Park Service and the
District of Columbia at a press conference and ribbon-cutting to re-open
Ford’s Theatre after its 18-month renovation. The event initiated the
celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln.

“I’d like to think that the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln is here
with us today to celebrate not only his 200th birthday but the re-opening
of Ford’s Theater,” Secretary Salazar said at the ribbon-cutting. “I think
he would have liked to experience how a wonderful partnership has brought
this theater and its educational programs into the 21st century.”

Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, the place where President Lincoln
was assassinated, is managed through a partnership between Interior’s NPS
and the society to provide theater productions and educational programs
about Lincoln and his legacy.

Secretary Salazar discussed the importance of the site to former
presidents, President Obama and the entire nation, recalling how Obama
retraced Lincoln’s train trip to Washington before his Inauguration and
then took his oath of office on the same Bible used by President Lincoln.

“Our new President, whose friendship I have cherished since we joined the
Senate together, has long studied Abe Lincoln’s life and leadership. His
admiration of Lincoln stems not only from shared Illinois roots but also
from great respect for his wisdom in a time of great turmoil.”

“Like Lincoln, President Obama faces the challenges of war and economic
turmoil,” Secretary Salazar noted. “He is also calling for unity. He is
also calling for change. The understanding of our common humanity and how
unity and needed change go hand-in-hand is part of understanding Lincoln.
Thus, it is part of the educational mission of Ford’s Theater.”

On display in the renovated lobby today was the Great Coat made by the
Brooks Brothers for President Lincoln. “The coat helps us imagine just a
bit of the larger-than-life stature of President Lincoln,” the Secretary
said. “Although he wore the Great Coat on the night he was assassinated
here at Ford’s Theater, the garment symbolizes much more than his martyrdom
for a united nation.

“President Lincoln also wore the coat on the occasion of his second
Inauguration where he gave his famous ‘With malice toward none, with
charity for all’ speech. In a call for unity that could apply to current
politics as much as it did to those in the 19th century, President Lincoln
called for binding up the nation’s wounds.”

Hosted by Paul Tetreault, Managing Director of Ford’s Theatre Society, the
ribbon-cutting also featured Wayne Reynolds, chairman of the society’s
board of trustees; Rex Tillerman, Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign
Chairman, Mayor Adrian Fenty and several members of the D.C. City Council.

The new lobby opens to the public tomorrow; open houses on February 12 and
16 feature a variety of public programs. A new museum will open later in
the year. The site is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information,
please see
http://www.fordstheatre.org/open-house-schedule-february-12-and-16-2009.

A copy of the Secretary’s remarks can be found at
http://www.doi.gov/secretary/salazar_speeches.html.

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