Washington No state has ever been allowed to replace a statue in the U.S. Capitol's 139-year-old National Statuary Hall Collection. Kansas is about to become the first.
This year, a bronze likeness of Dwight D. Eisenhower will replace a marble statue of a now-obscure former governor, George Washington Glick.
An 1864 law allowed each state to erect statues of two people notable to its history in the Old Hall of the House of Representatives after lawmakers moved into a new, larger chamber. Kansas sent marble likenesses of former U.S. Sen. John James Ingalls in 1905 and of Glick in 1914.
"Most of us don't remember Glick and Ingalls or have any idea who they were, and Eisenhower was such a dominant figure in the last century; it's really going to help with Kansas' name recognition," said Jim Brothers, the Eisenhower statue's sculptor. The Lawrence, Kan., artist is best-known for sculpting several soldiers in the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., which President Bush dedicated June 6, 2001.
The Capitol statue is based on a photograph of Eisenhower addressing World War II troops just before the D-Day invasion. The supreme Allied commander appears serious in the photograph, gesturing with his right hand and speaking emphatically to paratroops from the 101st Airborne Division. Brothers said research showed he was actually telling a story about fly fishing.
"He's got an invisible fly rod in his hand. In that one day, he went from the most powerful to, to me, the most human that he probably ever was," Brothers said.
An Army general born in Denison, Texas, and reared in Abilene, Kan., Eisenhower led the Allied invasion of Europe and went on to become the nation's 34th president.
Congress ignored a request from Kansas more than 30 years ago to substitute the Republican president for Glick.
Four years ago, the Kansas Legislature sent Congress a resolution urging removal of the Glick and Ingalls statues in exchange for depictions of Eisenhower and another legendary Kansan, aviator Amelia Earhart.
State lawmakers were encouraged by U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt, who had noticed the Kansas statues after his 1995 swearing-in while touring the Capitol with his parents.
"You walk right by the one from Oklahoma, Will Rogers, and everybody instantly recognizes it," Tiahrt said. "I thought it would really be nice if we had a statue from Kansas that everybody recognized."
The collection includes such beloved figures as Rogers -- visitors rub his bronze toes for luck -- and golden-cloaked King Kamehameha the Great from Hawaii. Statuary Hall holds only 38 of the collection's 97 statues -- Nevada, New Mexico and North Dakota are represented by one statue each -- and the others are arranged throughout the Capitol.
After pushing through legislation approving the first-of-its-kind switch, Tiahrt spearheaded a campaign to raise the $300,000 in private donations needed to make the bronze, bring it to Washington and return Glick's statue to Topeka, where it probably will stand in the Statehouse. About $275,000 has been donated so far.
U.S. Rep. Jim Ryun expects to head up a similar effort to exchange Earhart's statue for Ingalls'. The aviator would become the seventh woman represented in the statue collection.