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Obama pays homage to Lincoln
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From Capitol Hill to Springfield, Illinois, U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday paid tribute to the country's 16th president Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of the latter's birth.

U.S. President Barack Obama pays respect before he speaks at the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, Feb. 12, 2009. [Xinhuanet.com] 

"It is an honor to be here: a place where Lincoln served, was inaugurated, and where the nation he saved bid him a last farewell," Obama said at a memorial event in the rotunda of the Capitol building.

"As we mark the bicentennial of our 16th president's birth, I cannot claim to know as much about his life and works as many who are also speaking today, but I can say that I feel a special gratitude to this singular figure who in so many ways made my own story possible -- and who in so many ways made America's story possible," he told hundreds of lawmakers and commoners gathering there.

Obama invoked the 16th president to promote his vision of politics.

"At a moment when we are far less divided than in Lincoln's day but when we are once again debating the critical issues of our time -- and debating them sometimes fiercely -- let us remember that we are doing so as servants of the same flag, as representatives of the same people and as stakeholders in a common future," he said.

Obama will also speak later Thursday at an event in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln's hometown.

U.S. President Barack Obama attends a Abraham Lincoln birthday bicentennial Congressional celebration held in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington Feb. 12, 2009.[Xinhuanet.com] 

Across America, thousands of events are being held to commemorate Lincoln, widely considered as the most beloved president in U.S. history for ending slavery and holding the country together.

A day of tributes in Washington D.C. began with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, followed by a second ceremony at Ford's Theater where the president was fatally shot in the back of the head on April 14, 1865.

The National Archives is opening a special, five-day exhibit that will include a display of the original Emancipation Proclamation.

The Library of Congress is holding an exhibit called "With Malice Toward None" that will trace Lincoln's life and display rarely seen treasures.

In Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened its doors on Thursday for a special celebration, featuring original documents including the Gettysburg Address.

The statue of Abraham Lincoln sits at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of celebrations commemorating the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth in Washington February 11, 2009. The 16th President of the United States was born Feb. 12, 1809. [Xinhuanet.com]

(Xinhua News Agency February 13, 2009)

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