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The statue of James Madison is the latest addition to the Liberty Walk. Courtesy | Gianna Green

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.”