Symbols are an evolving library of information that pulls us together into the same conversation. Many symbols go beyond religious and cultural markers that are recognized by all, while some need to be learned before they are used and understood.
The key ingredient in a symbol is meaning. Anything can be a symbol, if it has meaning and sufficient recognition or use, it will eventually make it into the library of symbols of a religion, nation, the western or the eastern world, or humanity.
Neoclassical architecture as it is present in North America and especially United States has been associated with many meanings out of which in the case of Lincoln Memorial is democracy.
The architect took it’s inspiration from the Greek Parthenon suitably fit to represent democracy, unity and emancipation. The democracy of the Greeks stands as one of those values so central to humanity that to visually express it, requires the use of symbols that cannot be mistaken. In that sense it is easy, you do not have to make up a symbol, just use the ones that are there. This is however deceiving because the architecture and aesthetics of antiquity has been so used that it is in fact harder to continue to use it and generate interesting and laudable architecture.
Granted, the Lincoln memorial is not that new, it is a spectacular example of such architecture. Judged by proportion, scale, placement in the surroundings and elevated from the ground, it immediately raises your spirit to the greater values that it exists for.
Beyond architecture, the sculpture, the paintings and down to the wording carefully selected and engraved, it is a powerful memorial to freedom that everyone will experience. Read here more about this beautiful homage to the life we live today.