Friday, July 2, 2010

Anniversary of Nat'l Statuary Hall; Air Force represented

July 2, 2010

On this day in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln signed the law designating Statuary Hall, then already 50 years old and known as the Old Hall of the House, as the home of the National Statuary Hall collection in the U.S. Capitol. Read more at today's Politico.

While many of the statues honor early statesmen and predate the Air Force, there is Air Force and aviation representation in the collection.

A statue of Jack Swigert [pictured] was contributed in 1997 by Colorado. Each state contributes two from any era, and he is one of the more recent ones. In a storied career, he was a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, a test pilot for private aviation, a pilot in the Air National Guard and a NASA astronaut. He was on board the famous Apollo 13 mission, an attempt to return to the Moon. He died in 1982, shortly after his election to Congress.

Reportedly, the state of Ohio is planning to update their collection with a new contribution. Among the finalists under consideration in June by the state legislature was a representation of the Wright brothers. Orville and Wilbur Wright fathered aviation with powered flight a little over a century ago while living and inventing in Dayton, Ohio, and a few years later built the first military airplane.

Finally, Statuary Hall is often used for ceremonies. The famed Tuskegee Airmen were honored there upon receipt of the Congressional Medal of Honor. They were honored by the Air Force Association at the 2009 Air & Space Conference in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Created by Staff Sgt. Michael Middleton, a new chalk nose art is displayed on an RQ-4 Global Hawk assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an air base in Southwest Asia Feb. 12, 2010, in honor of Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Lee Archer who died Jan. 27 at the age of 90 in New York City. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

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