Dole unveils Reagan statue
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who was transportation secretary in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, unveiled a 9-foot bronze statue of the late president this morning at Reagan National Airport.
Dole was a natural choice to help with the unveiling. She championed the idea of transferring management of Washington’s two airports (National and Dulles) from the federal government to an independent airports authority.
It took three years, but the legislation was eventually enacted to create the authority.
National Airport later was named for Reagan.
The statue was funded through the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, and Dole served as the project’s campaign chairman.
Before becoming transportation secretary under Reagan, Dole, a Salisbury, N.C., native, also was assistant to Reagan for public liaison.
The Reagan statue is one of several being unveiled in 2011 as part of the yearlong celebration commemorating 100 years since his birth.
The statue weighs approximately 900 pounds and stands in front of a 38-foot, curving stainless steel wall that includes a cutout image of an American eagle.
Reagan is shown in motion, greeting travelers arriving or departing the airport. It was created by Chas Fagan, a sculptor from North Carolina, whose other works on Reagan are in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, in Grosvenor Square in London and at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif.
“Although I can’t be there today,” former First Lady Nancy Reagan said in a statement, “I’m thrilled to know that he will stand at the airport welcoming visitors to our nation’s capital. I’m grateful to the three secretaries of transportation who are there today — Secretary Ray LaHood, Secretary Elizabeth Dole and Secretary Jim Burnley.
“I’m especially appreciative for Elizabeth’s leadership making this special recognition possible during Ronnie’s centennial year.”
Besides Dole, LaHood (the present transportation secretary) and Burnley (also a transportation secretary in Reagan’s administration), others taking part in the 11:15 a.m. ceremony at the airport were Frederick J. Ryan Jr., chairman of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation; and Charles D. Snelling, chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
In 1987, Dole wrote to Reagan: “We have worked to redefine the relationship between Washington and the people: getting the federal government out of the business of running railroads and airports, paving avenues into space for commercial entrepreneurs and eliminating economic regulation while strengthening safety oversight.
“Most Americans today are freer than ever before to travel where and how they will at less cost, while during the last three years, we have compiled the best safety record in history.”
President Reagan responded to Dole with this note: “You made Conrail the flagship of privatization in the United States. You transferred National and Dulles airports to a regional authority, something other transportation planners had tried and failed to achieve on at least eight occasions since 1949.”