Helen Keller Statue Unveiled in U.S. Capitol
A statue of Helen Keller was unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. this morning, as a gift from the state of Alabama to the nation's collection.
Governor Bob Riley, along with Congressional leaders, unveiled the 1,000-pound bronze Hellen Keller statue. The statue depicts Keller, who lost her sight and hearing to illness when she was only 19 months old, as a 7-year-old girl standing at a water pump at her home in Tuscumbia, Alabama, while her teacher Anne Sullivan spelled out the word "W-A-T-E-R" in her hand while pumping water over her other hand. Of the 100 statues donated by the state, this one is the first featuring a child and a person with a disability.
"Helen Keller, in this statue in the Capitol, will always remind us that people must be respected for what they can do, rather than judged for what they cannot," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
"This extraordinary person showed us the power of the human spirit and reminded all of us that courage and strength can exist in the most unlikely places...By placing this statue in the Capitol, we appropriately honor this extraordinary American and will inspire countless children who will come to understand that with faith and courage there truly are no limits to what can be accomplished and no obstacles that cannot be overcome." Riley said during Wednesday's unveiling ceremony.
Keller's statue will replace one depicting Jabez Curry. Curry, who has represented Alabama in the Capitol since 1908, was a Georgia native who served as president of Howard College, which later became Samford University in Birmingham.
The Helen Keller statue, funded with private donations raised by the state, cost about $325,000. No one had seen the statue before the unveiling ceremony except the artist himself, who took 42 hours to deliver it to Washington in his pickup truck. More than 400 people attended the ceremony today, including about 35 descendants of Keller.
Read about the Helen Keller Dance