As what is arguably the most iconic and recognizable symbol of our nation has deteriorated to the point of requiring a $60 million renovation, the Dome and its Statue of Freedom stand tall, and will continue to stand proud.
Photo by C. Allin Means, Ph.D.
Despite the political division under the Capitol Dome, the United States came together recently to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the iconic project that serves as a visual centerpiece on the table of a nation.
The anniversary marks the placement of the Freedom Statue — the highest point of the capital — atop the Capitol Building on Dec. 2, 1863, marking the official completion of the landmark.
Why is the Capitol Dome worthy of celebration?
Perhaps the fact that the project was completed less than two weeks after Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg address.
While the United States was ravaged by internal strife — the Civil War — the construction continued. The construction symbolized the unity and progress of the U.S., serving as a beacon of hope.
The crown of the dome is the Statue of Freedom designed by Thomas Crawford.
The statue, 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 15,000 pounds, was cast by Philip Reid, a slave, according to founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture during the Dec. 1, 2013 episode of “60 Minutes.”
The Statue of Freedom pays tribute to the Native American culture of the United States and represents a triumph despite the marred past of the nation.
A remarkable triumph begun before a piece of iron was placed — the bill to build and fund the dome was passed in the House within 10 weeks, then passed by the Senate a few days later.
The project, appropriating $100,000, was signed by President Franklin Pierce March 3, 1855, according to the Architect of the Capital, a government division dedicated to the upkeep of Washington D.C.’s government architectural treasures.
While the Capitol Dome is celebrated, the Dome requires a critical $60 million renovation to prevent the demise of a national symbol.
Once again, politicians from both parties were able to unite for the Capitol Dome, passing appropriations and approval for renovations.
The Capitol Dome is a symbol of our nation. Placed as the peak for the monumental building in the center of the nation’s capital city, the Capitol Dome stands for the heart of the nation.
The nation is distressed, once again, but the Capitol Dome remains.
While lawmakers and nation fought for Reid’s freedom, Reid cast the statue.
While lawmakers and nation fight for our freedoms and rights — health care, privacy, immigration, terrorism and education — the Capitol Dome’s future is being cast.
Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, led the charge for the Capitol Dome’s renovations.
“This Capitol belongs to the American people,” Pelosi said during the “60 Minutes” episode. “It is this place for them to visit. It is the most identifiable symbol of democracy that there is.”
The Capitol Dome celebration is more than a celebration of the building’s past, but a celebration of the nation’s future.