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Abraham Lincoln Memorial gets $18.5M donation from American businessman

By Doug G. Ware   |   Feb. 15, 2016 at 3:07 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- President's Day was good to the legacy and memorial of President Abraham Lincoln, which will both benefit from a near $20 million gift from an American philanthropist.

David M. Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group, an investment firm, pledged a donation of $18.5 million Monday on the holiday commemorating U.S. commanders in-chief, the National Park Service said.

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The donation will expand educational resources, increase public access, and provide a major restoration of the 94-year-old Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., over the next four years, the NPS added.

"This generous donation by David Rubenstein, his fourth to benefit national parks, comes at a perfect time as our national parks usher in a new century of service to this nation," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, referring to the NPS' centennial year in 2016. "His act of 'patriotic philanthropy' will not only safeguard one of our most visited and recognizable memorials for future generations, but will also help preserve Lincoln's legacy to this country."

"These improvements will hopefully enable more people to better understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln's remarkable leadership during one of the most trying periods in American history," Rubenstein said. "I am humbled to be a part of honoring this great man and preserving this iconic memorial for future generations."

Officials said the restoration will probably be the biggest structural project on the monument since it was completed and dedicated in 1922.

Philanthropist David M. Rubenstein at the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., December 5, 2015. Monday, Rubenstein announced a new $18.5 million donation that will provide for reparation and restoration of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall in Washington. Pool photo by Ron Sachs/UPI

The memorial will remain open during restoration, although some parts will close for the reparations.

About seven million people visit the Lincoln Memorial every year, the NPS says.

Last year, Rubenstein contributed more than $5 million to refurbish the famous U.S. Marine Corps "Iwo Jima" War Memorial. In 2014, he made donations to the White House Visitors Center, the Virginia home of former President James Madison and the home of Civil War Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Rubenstein also paid half the bill to repair the Washington Monument after damage from a 2011 earthquake.

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