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Lincoln Bicentennial Already Being Planned

Honest Abe acolytes are expected to flock to the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building on Monday, when the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission convenes with its Advisory Committee for the first time to discuss plans for how to best mark the 2009 bicentennial of the 16th president’s birth.

The evening, which includes an invitation-only meeting, reception and dinner, will also feature a free performance open to the general public at 7 p.m. of “Lincoln Seen & Heard” in the Thomas Jefferson Building’s Coolidge Auditorium.

Narrated by historian and Metropolitan Museum of Art Vice President Harold Holzer, the performance stars Sam Waterston of “Law and Order” fame as the Great Emancipator.

Waterston, who has portrayed Lincoln in the TV adaptation of Gore Vidal’s “Lincoln,” on Broadway and in Ken Burns’ “Civil War,” will provide dramatic renditions of Lincoln’s speeches and writings.

“[Waterston’s] the best Lincoln in captivity,” quipped Holzer, adding that the two had previously teamed up for performances of the show at the Met in New York City and at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.

The event is planned as a means for the group to introduce itself to Washington and the Capitol Hill community, according to the commission’s executive director, Michael Bishop, himself a former Congressional aide.

The 15-member commission — which is co-chaired by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) and Holzer — was created by Congress and signed into law in 2000 by then-President Bill Clinton. It is assisted in its mission by an advisory committee of more than 100 members, including historians Michael Beschloss and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

“The legislation [creating the commission] requires that we discuss the possibility of a bicentennial penny, a commemorative postage stamp, a joint session of Congress and a celebration at the Lincoln Memorial,” Bishop said.

He added: “However, we are not limiting ourselves to these ideas, and we are relying upon the creativity of our advisers and the general public to provide appropriate and exciting ways of celebrating the bicentennial.”

Individuals can contribute their ideas for the bicentennial celebration by going to www.lincolnbicentennial.gov. Reservations for “Lincoln Seen & Heard” are required and can be made by calling (202) 414-0801.

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