On Feb. 12, 2009, the country will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincolns birth.
It is, of course, fitting that Kentucky play a large role in the birthday party for Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, savior of the Union and one of the truly great U.S. presidents. He was born on Feb. 12 in the famous log cabin near what today is Hodgenville in LaRue County.
In fact, a two-year national celebration of Lincolns birth will begin Feb. 12, 2008 at Hodgenville.
Among Kentuckys events celebrating Lincolns 200th birthday is a planned statue along the waterfront in Louisville. Internationally famed Louisville sculptor Ed Hamilton is considering accepting the commission for the Lincoln statue.
The cost of the memorial is $2 million in state funds.
The appropriation is one of many included in the budget negotiated between the House and Senate last month in the final days of the General Assembly session. Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Kelly, R-Springfield, who also is head of the Kentucky Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, pushed it.
The budget item was not one of those vetoed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher.
And there lies a problem not that state funds are to be used for a memorial to Abraham Lincoln, but that $2 million for a statue stayed in the budget when funds were vetoed for such projects as needed improvements at a home for abused children.
At a time when we have a university football stadium named after a pizza company and the Kentucky Derby sponsored by a fast-food company, did no one consider seeking private funding for a statue and memorial to Abraham Lincoln on the Louisville riverfront?
Two million dollars is hardly an enormous amount of money, except when it could have been used at a facility for abused children. Indeed the amount is such that it should have been easy to collect from corporate and individual contributors large and small.
Instead, the let-the-state-pay-for-it attitude prevailed once again.
We expect Lincoln would have opted to help the home for abused children.