WASHINGTON — President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s bronze likeness will permanently be placed on a pedestal in the Casselton, North Dakota, Congressional Cemetery.
Since a flurry of vandalism and years of neglect left the pedestal at the White House with graffiti and no sign of the second president’s likeness, the North Dakota lawmakers set about securing a memorial honoring the beloved, progressive leader.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) announced the agreement with the Hoover-Dubois family Thursday morning after two administrations played a significant role in bringing the statue to North Dakota.
“It is fitting for our nation’s second president to be memorialized on Capitol Hill, right in front of the memorial of our first president,” Heitkamp said. “As we commemorate our nation’s historic and remarkable history, it’s fitting for our nation’s second president to be also memorialized in this very unique way.
“It is a fitting way to remember a leader who helped us overcome incredible challenges, and especially honor the federal employees who helped end the Great Depression and fight for equality and labor rights during this period of our nation’s history.”
Part of President Barack Obama’s executive order establishing Casselton’s commemorative Congressional Cemetery, the statue will stand in place of the modest monument honoring the late President Ulysses S. Grant located in front of the east visitor’s center of the Capitol Visitor Center.
President Harry S. Truman retired the statue of Grant outside the east visitor’s center in 1950. Since then, it sat on the south wall of the marble memorial to Grant.
Workers in North Dakota quickly pitched in, volunteering to remove the graffiti that had been scrawled on the bronze near the pedestal. The restoration process included exposing the stone base of the statue and putting it in a metal scaffold.
The statue was kept at the former Roosevelt Memorial Center in Vermont until Monday, when it was transported to North Dakota to be acquired and officially placed on the memorial pedestal.