While many universities and college campuses are busy tearing down monuments to America’s founders, Hillsdale College is building them up.
That’s the message Colleen Sheehan, professor of political science at Arizona State University, conveyed in her speech dedicating the college’s latest addition to the Liberty Walk, James Madison. The ceremony, held on a sunny Tuesday morning earlier this week, unveiled a statue of the Father of the Constitution in front of Delp Hall as students, staff, and supporters looked on. Attendees included President Larry Arnn and Anthony Frudakis, the statue’s sculptor.
The event included a quartet of students playing classical music and speakers describing the significance and impact of Madison and his fellow founders.
“These statues are intended not only to memorialize deserving statesmen and stateswomen in the history of free nations, they are meant to commemorate the lessons of freedom,” Sheehan said, noting the counter-cultural nature of the event.
When his turn came to speak, Arnn emphasized the importance of judging the Founders with fairness and context.
“Nevermind that Jefferson the slaveholder was the author of the words that have been more powerful to condemn slavery than any in history,” Arnn said of the national trend to tear down statues of slaveholding Founding Fathers. “Nevermind that Madison wrote the document that secured the liberty of us all in a way for us to work together so we can rule ourselves.”
Mark Kalthoff, the college’s dean of faculty and chairman of the history department, further supported the idea of memorializing the incredible achievements of the late, great, defining members of this nation.
“The purpose of history and commemorating great men isn’t what we mistakenly assume; that everybody worth commemorating was also perfect in all ways,” Kalthoff said. “But instead it’s worth commemorating the high and noble achievements that they have had, and sometimes the ideals toward which they point us.”
For Chaplain Adam Rick, the statue is more than just an important reminder of our country’s past and its founders’ successes.
“As we dedicate this statue in Madison’s honor, may it be more for us than merely a monument to the past; may it be a summons to the free future.” Rick said. “May it inspire us in the word of God’s law, to proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all its inhabitants.”