By David J. Kent
Saturday, May 8, 2021
With all the discussion about whether statues of Abraham Lincoln are worthy of still standing, you may have missed that a new statue of Lincoln is about to go up in Wilkinsburg, Pennyslvania.
The new 400-pound bronze life-size statue was unveiled in February in the Wilkinsburg Borough Municipal Building, Allegheny County. It matches Lincoln's height exactly - 6 foot, 4 inches. Designed by world-renowned sculptor Susan Wagner, a Penn Hills native, the statue depicts Lincoln standing, with his head bowed slightly. His right hand grasps the lapel of his suit jacket; the left holds the rolled up Emancipation Proclamation. Extremely lifelike, the document he holds is "identifiable by the imitation of Lincoln’s handwriting that Wagner engraved on a visible part of the rolled-up sheet."
While they waited for the base to arrive, the statue has been sitting in the Municipal Building waiting for a good time to place it outside. That time is soon. According to Wilkinsburg Historical Society President Anne Elise Morris, the new Lincoln statue will be erected in June at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Ardmore Boulevard.
The new statue replaces an old hammered-sheet Lincoln statue that was dedicated in 1916 and stood at the same intersection for over a century. It was looking the worst for wear, so a decision was made to replace it. A GoFundMe page was started in hopes of raising $70,000 to commission a new statue. Less than two years later, they not only got the funds, they got the statue designed, cast in bronze, and ready to be erected next month.
The GoFundMe page stimulated a huge inflow of cash ranging from a dollar to $5,000 coming from individuals, businesses, and organizations (including a Girl Scout troop). A wide diversity of local businesses donated to the effort, demonstrating that people of all backgrounds honor Lincoln. "It was clear that an Abraham Lincoln statue was desired," noted WHS President Morris.
The specially designed, two-piece, black granite base has arrived from India and is being installed. Once secured onto the base, the new statue will stand two feet higher than the previous statue.
As we reevaluate the people we honor with statues, it's important for all of us to fully understand the complexity of Lincoln. Today, both parties cherish Lincoln as one of their own and a day doesn't go by without him being quoted (or sometimes misquoted). Lincoln achieved what doubtfully any other man could have achieved - the saving of the United States when it was tearing itself apart.
We could all use a lot more Lincoln today, not less.
Photo credit: Kristina Serafini_Tribune Review