President Ronald Reagan will take a place among great Americans from all 50 states in National Statuary Hall, thanks to a measure authored by state Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) which was approved in the closing hours of the legislative session.
The measure, SJR 3, will place a likeness of the former governor and president as one of two representing California in the nation’s Capitol.
The U.S. Congress created a place to honor great Americans in the capitol building in 1864. The National Statuary Hall, was first built and used as a second chamber for the House of Representatives. But after 50 years of use, the Congress decided to invite each state to contribute two sculptures, made of bronze or marble, for permanent display. The entire collection now consists of 100 statues, contributed by each of the 50 states.
California contributed its two statues in 1931, one is of Thomas Starr King. Known as “the orator who saved the nation,” King was credited with saving California from becoming a separate republic during the Civil War. California’s other statue is of Father Junipero Serra, a Franciscan Friar who established Spanish missions throughout California and gained prominence as an eloquent preacher.
The Thomas Starr King statue will be returned to the California State Capitol Building for public viewing, while the Serra statue will remain in the National Statuary Hall. The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation will commission a sculptor and provide the necessary funding to carry out the honoring ceremonies and placement.
Reagan was elected California’s governor in 1966, serving two terms and became the 40th President in 1981, serving two consecutive terms. During his presidency, his “Peace through Strength” philosophy for America is credited as the main reason for the Soviet Union’s collapse, the demolition of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War.
“He was a true statesman – in every sense – and as one of our finest presidents, he deserves to be honored for his courageous and remarkable legacy,” Hollingsworth said.
Though replacement of statues at the hall does not occur often, most states that have governors or native sons that rise to the presidency honor these individuals in this way. The state of Kansas passed a similar resolution in 1999, which replaced former Governor Robert Glick with a statue of former President Dwight Eisenhower.
Because it honors a former president, the Reagan statue will be placed in a prominent place of honor in the hall. The placement will follow a ceremony at a future date in Washington, D.C., coordinated by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Congress.
"It’s great to be able to say, ‘California is once again sending Ronald Reagan to Washington’, this time, to have his likeness reside in a place of honor where generations of Americans who visit can fondly remember this great man and his enduring legacy of freedom" Hollingsworth said.
Dennis Hollingsworth is the Senate Republican Caucus Whip representing the 36th Senate District, which includes Southwest Riverside County, North and East San Diego County, and portions of the City of San Diego.