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Standing tall
Larger-than-life Lincoln statue will be placed in Union Square Park

Published Thursday, December 29, 2005

A bronze, nine-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln, bracing himself against the wind, will adorn the southeast corner of Union Square Park across Sixth Street from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.

Titled "A Greater Task" and sculpted by Decatur artist John McClarey, the larger-than-life Lincoln figure actually will reach about 131/2 feet high after adding in the pedestal.

McClarey, an award-winning artist and former history teacher, is best known for his Lincoln sculptures, one of which can be found as far away as Moscow. He also has sculpted such figures as Black Hawk, Robert E. Lee and Ronald Reagan.

He spent about a year complet- ing his Union Square Park project, he said from his home.

"He stands at this point in time, in February 1861, ready to leave Springfield to assume the presidency," McClarey said. "He's facing east, toward Washington, D.C. I'm showing him posed as though it were a storm raging around him. His hair ruffled and his right hand firmly gripping the lapel of his coat. His left hand is open, to show his willingness to appeal to the American people to do what is right."

McClarey, 70, said his sculpture reflects Lincoln's two most dominant leadership traits - his openness and toughness.

"(The statue) is symbolic of the awesome power he was prepared to assume as president and commander in chief. It's called 'A Greater Task' because Lincoln considered the task he was facing - to save the nation - greater than Washington's." McClarey said.

The statue was commissioned by the Capital Development Board, the state's construction agency, which reserves a small percentage of its building funds for on-site artwork.

"A Greater Task" will be unveiled sometime next summer, when the $2.65 million park is expected to open.

Pete Sherman can be contacted at 788-1539 or

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