WASHINGTON — A statue of one of the state's most famous figures — Helen Keller — will take its place in the U.S. Capitol complex this fall, Alabama's congressional delegation announced today.
The statue will be unveiled on October 7 at a ceremony in the Capitol. The monument to Keller will permanently reside in the Main Hall of the new 580,000-square-foot Capitol Visitor's Center.
The unveiling marks the end of a years-long process-initiated when Governor Bob Riley served in the U.S. House of Representatives-to fund, commission, and complete the statue. The figure, cast in bronze, was paid for with private donations.
Third District Congressman Mike Rogers issued this statement:
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"I am honored a statue of Alabama's Helen Keller will be placed in the Capitol complex. Keller's determination and spirit is an example to us all that we can overcome the toughest of circumstances," Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Saks) said.
Keller, born in Tuscumbia on June 27, 1880, lost her sight and hearing after a bout of meningitis before her second birthday.
She overcame these enormous obstacles, going on to become an internationally recognized author and activist. A pioneer for all those with disabilities throughout the world, Keller was, in the words of LIFE Magazine, a "national treasure" and "one of the 100 most important Americans of the 20th Century."
Keller's life story and work also received official recognition on Alabama's quarter, part of the 50 State commemorative coin set issued by the U.S. Mint, which included her likeness and the inscription "Spirit of Courage."
Each state donates two statues to display in the Capitol complex. Alabama's other honored figure is "Fighting" Joe Wheeler, a Civil War general and nine-term U.S. Representative.
Members of the delegation are preparing a Joint Resolution in Congress to approve the final seating of the Keller monument. Congress is expected to easily approve the resolution this summer.