LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - President Bush, a best-selling author and a Hollywood actor will be in Kentucky to kick off a national celebration marking Abraham Lincoln's birth, officials said Thursday.
Lincoln's boyhood home of Hodgenville, a small town about 55 miles southeast of Louisville, will host thousands when the national celebration begins in February. Lincoln events to celebrate the bicentennial are also planned in several other Kentucky cities, including Louisville, Lexington and Frankfort.
"We're going to remind the world that Abraham Lincoln was a Kentuckian and he got his start right here," said Lindy Casebier, director of Kentucky's Office of Arts & Cultural Heritage.
Lincoln was born in a log cabin on Feb. 12, 1809, near Hodgenville in LaRue County, and then moved around Kentucky and Indiana until 1830, when he settled in Illinois. He was back in Kentucky in 1841, when he furloughed for three weeks at Farmington, a former Louisville plantation where officials gathered Thursday to announce bicentennial plans.
Tommy Turner, LaRue County's judge-executive, said many people don't realize Lincoln was born in the Bluegrass state.
"We, along the way, have somewhat forgotten that, or lost that and we're trying to reconnect that tie to Abraham Lincoln," Turner said.
Officials said Thursday that Bush is scheduled to give a keynote address at the Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville on Feb. 12. President Roosevelt gave a similar address at the site during the Lincoln centennial in 1909.
Sam Waterston, a longtime actor on NBC's "Law and Order," will deliver a dramatic reading of Lincoln's words and writer Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Lincoln biographer, will host a forum on the 16th president in Louisville on Feb. 11. A new statue of Lincoln for Louisville's waterfront by artist Ed Hamilton will also be unveiled, said Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson.
Two years of national events will follow the Kentucky kickoff with other events planned in Washington, D.C., Illinois and Indiana.
The town of Hodgenville has been undergoing a massive overhaul to prepare for next year's events. The town square has been converted into a circle to accommodate the expected thousands of visitors. The town is the site of a huge granite memorial that houses a replica of Lincoln's boyhood home.
Kentucky Lincoln bicentennial: www.kylincoln.org
National Lincoln bicentennial: www.lincolnbicentennial.gov
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)