By Wendy Swanson
Wednesday, April 19, 2023
Once again the Lincoln Group is in the news award-wise. This time the awardee is Lincoln Group President David J. Kent, who is the recipient of the Lincoln Legacy Award, presented by the Lincoln Society of Peekskill (New York). Kent gave the keynote address at the Society’s annual banquet on April 15, 2023, and received the award at that time. The Lincoln Legacy Award is given by the Society to a person or organization that epitomizes the values and achievements of our sixteenth president.
During his keynote address, Kent admitted to being “deeply honored to receive this award,” He added that “the prestigiousness of the award is demonstrated by the list of previous winners.” He definitely is in good company as previous recipients of the award include Harold Holzer, Eric Foner, David Blight, James Oakes, Edna Greene Medford, Martha Hodes, Ted Widmer, and James McPherson.
In presenting the award, Society Past President Anthony Czarnecki and President Michael Macedonia highlighted Kent’s service as president of the Lincoln Group of DC; his efforts with the LGDC to organize and - then to emcee - the Lincoln Memorial Centennial program on the Memorial steps in May 2022: and the success of his book, Lincoln: The Fire of Genius. The award is an appropriate one for our president in light of his efforts to bring about the Lincoln Memorial Centennial events – the award consists of a beautiful bronze of the Daniel Chester French seated Lincoln from the Lincoln Memorial. (The award is shown in the photograph above.)
The inscription on the award is shown below:
In addition to the award, Kent received a private tour of West Point given by Emily Lapisardi, incoming president of the Society and music director at the Catholic Chapel at West Point. The tour included lunch at the West Point Club; a look at the “million-dollar view” over the Hudson River from the heights; a private tour of the West Point Museum; and an impromptu rendition of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” performed by Emily herself, on the massive organ in the immense Cadet Chapel.
The Society also treated Kent to a tour of the Lincoln Depot Museum, the restored railroad station in Peekskill where Lincoln stopped on his way to Washington for the inauguration. In 1865, his funeral train, retracing the inaugural route, stopped there on the way back to Springfield.
Lincoln visited West Point in June of 1862 to confer with the retired General Winfield Scott, a secret visit that was captured in an article by Tony Czarnecki in New York History (Winter 2012 edition), the journal of the New York State Historical Association.
Kent’s stop in Peekskill was at the end of a nearly two week-road tour of Lincoln’s two visits to New England. During his travels, Kent also met with Michael Burlingame in Connecticut, saw Lincoln statues in Rhode Island, visited Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, and toured Robert Lincoln’s Hildene home in Vermont. He has promised to provide further coverage of his journey in future posts for this site, including some “unexpected” Lincoln sightings.
The Lincoln Group of DC congratulates David Kent on his well-earned achievement. Anyone involved with the Lincoln Memorial Centennial event knows just how hard he worked to make this event happen and to ensure that the program went smoothly. His contributions to that project alone warrant the recognition. His leadership and scholarship have enriched our own members' knowledge of Lincoln and his times. His contributions to our organization have been innumerable. We are honored - and proud - to have him as our president and we join him in celebrating this honor.
(Photo credits: David J. Kent)