On February 22 I posted an item in response to National Review writer David L. Schaefer who criticized the NPS for part of its website on the Lincoln Memorial which contextualizes the building and commemoration of the site. The article "Deconstructing the Lincoln Memorial" cites one short page of the website and generalizes from there in terms of the NPS’s failure to consider Lincoln’s emancipation record and role in saving the Union. Even after a cursory scanning of the website it was clear that the NPS offers a fairly sophisticated account of the history of Lincoln and goes far in establishing his importance to the overall history of the country. Unfortunately I learned today that the specific page referred to in the National Review piece has been deleted.
Of course there is no way to know whether it is coincidence, but I suspect that pressure was placed on the NPS to delete it. It’s disappointing to know that a poorly written article by someone who clearly had his conclusions drawn about the politics of the NPS could have this much influence on an institution that takes its responsibility of interpretating America’s historic places seriously. We need to understand our memorials and other public sites not simply as memorials to the past, but as reflections of the individuals and society that created them. Why would this be any different for the Lincoln Memorial?