• 43°

Commission seeks suggestions for new statue

The Commission for Historical Statues in the U.S. Capitol is asking the public to submit suggestions for a historical person to represent Virginia in a new statue for placement in the Capitol.

The commission is particularly interested in hearing proposals from Virginia students. The deadline for submitting a name for the new statue is by November 27.

The new statue will eventually complement one of George Washington and take the place of a statue of Robert E. Lee that the commission recommended removing during a public hearing in August. The commission made its decision to solicit the public for proposed honorees for a new statue during its most recent public meeting on October 8.

Suggestions for a historical figure to represent Virginia in the U.S. Capitol, where each state is entitled to two statues, must conform to criteria established by the office of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol. That criteria requires that the person honored by a statue be deceased, be illustrious for historic renown or for distinguished civic or military service, and represent only one individual. While the criteria also requires that the person was a U.S. citizen, it does make exceptions for an indigenous person who resided in the present-day U.S., such as Pocahontas, one name already submitted to the commission.

To those criteria, the commission has added additional values and attributes. The historical person must be associated with significant events that changed the course of history or with significant ideals, writings or concepts. Other criteria that may qualify a suggested individual would be someone renowned for exemplary valor, patriotism, and bravery. Additionally, the person should be one whose primary historical significance ties her or him directly to Virginia. Or the person should have spent the majority of his or her life residing in the commonwealth. Also, suggested honorees should represent current prevailing values, according to the commission’s criteria.

Students and others should submit their suggestions by email to USCapitolCommission@dhr.virginia.gov or by mail to the US Capitol Commission, Department of Historic Resources, 2801 Kensington Ave., Richmond, VA 23221. The next meeting of the commission convenes on November 17, beginning at 9 a.m. and will be conducted remotely due to necessary health precautions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Names for the new statue submitted prior to that public meeting will be included on a list DHR compiles and presents to the commission, although the commission will accept submissions until close of day on November 27.

After the November 27 deadline, the commission will research persons suggested for the statue to determine the values and attributes each historic figure represents. The commission will narrow the proposed candidates for the statue to a list of five. At a public hearing in December, the commission will select from the list of five a final name for a new statue to recommend to the General Assembly.