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Senator Goldwater returns to the U.S. Capitol

Arizona will unveil its new statue tomorrow in a special installation ceremony at Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol to honor the late Senator Barry Goldwater’s place in our nation’s history. This is the story of how it happened, from the State Senator who made it happen:

“No individual has had a greater influence on Arizona’s first century than Senator Barry Goldwater. He was known across the country as Mr. Arizona. That is why it is so fitting that we honor his legacy to our great state by placing his likeness in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, where he will stand among the greatest men and women in our nation’s history.

Statuary Hall was authorized by Congress in 1864 to allow each state to provide two statues of notable citizens for display at the U.S. Capitol. Arizona has been represented by John Campbell Greenway since 1930 and Father Eusebio Kino since 1965. The Greenway statue was sculpted by the renowned Gutzon Borglum, creator of Mt. Rushmore.

In the summer of 2007, during my first year in the Arizona legislature, I visited Washington, D.C. with my young family and we were able to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol through Congressman John Shadegg’s office. During the tour, we visited Statuary Hall, and while I was standing in front of the Greenway statue, I looked to my left and saw Daniel Webster from New Hampshire and looked to my right and saw Robert E. Lee from Virginia. I knew those two prominent figures in U.S. history, but I knew very little about John Greenway, other than the road and high school that bear his name in Phoenix. I wondered to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be more appropriate for Arizona to be represented by Mr. Arizona himself, Barry Goldwater?’ When I got back to Phoenix, I did a little research and learned that it was possible to add a new statue.

Congress had enacted legislation only a few years earlier in 2000 enabling states to request the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approve the replacement of the statue the state has provided, if the request has been approved by the legislature and approved by the Governor.

Before the 2008 legislative session, I carefully drafted a bill that would enable Barry Goldwater to replace John Greenway in Statuary Hall. During my research, I had learned quite a few things about John Greenway, and developed a great deal of respect for him. I did not mean to dishonor or disrespect the legacy of John Greenway in anyway, but I thought that as Arizona was approaching its centennial, it was fitting that she be represented in Statuary Hall by someone who had a greater impact on the first 100 years of statehood. I gathered bipartisan support for the measure and it passed both the House and the Senate and was then signed by Governor Janet Napolitano.

Once approved, the project got off to a very slow start. There were many distractions, it was an election year and by the next legislative session, Governor Napolitano had resigned and Governor Brewer took over during one of the toughest economic recessions in state history. Still, gradually the pieces of the puzzle were put together as the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress approved the Goldwater placement in 2010 and a committee was established to select an artist and raise the money for the endeavor.

More than 20 artists asked to be considered for the prestigious commission. The committee narrowed that group to five and asked that they produce a small maquette as an example of their vision for the statue, along with a life-sized likeness of Senator Goldwater’s face. Ultimately Deborah Copenhaver Fellows from Sonoita, Arizona was selected as the artist.

We could not be more pleased with the finished product. Deborah Copenhaver Fellows has such an amazing talent and has painstakingly poured her soul into this work of art. She has captured Senator Goldwater’s spirit and presence in what I believe is one of the most lifelike and impressive statues in Statuary Hall.

The statues in the Hall rest on pedestals that are usually about three feet high. The statues can be up to 7 feet tall, for a total of 10 feet in height. One of the things I noticed when visiting Statuary Hall is that most of the faces of the statues were so high in the air and looking straight ahead. It was difficult to see the individuals’ faces. I suggested to Deborah before she started the project that it would be a good idea if Senator Goldwater’s head could be slightly tilted down, as if he were making eye contact with the person looking up at him. She loved that idea and has incorporated it into her work and it really looks impressive.

I am so grateful to all those who played a part in this process. It is amazing to me that a whimsical idea I had seven years ago as a new state legislator would take hold and would actually come to pass. There were so many who dedicated their time, energy and talents to pay this tribute to an important Arizona leader. The entire process was extremely challenging to get where we are today. No tax payer funds were used on the project, which is exactly how Senator Goldwater would have wanted it. It is great to have Mr. Arizona back where he belongs, representing Arizona in the U.S. Capitol.”

Senator Adam Driggs District 28

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