Reagan, Obama statues essential additions

February 20, 2019 GMT

What a society remembers is important. And if no effort is made to remember something, it fades pretty fast.

Thus, we support the idea of erecting statues to Presidents Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan in the state capital of Springfield. Bills are in the state Legislature now to add as many as six new statues in Springfield. We have no objection to the idea of additional statues. The proposals include Gov. James Thompson, Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, Chicago founder Jean Baptiste Pointe du Sable and AFL-CIO President Reuben Soderstrom, as well as the presidents.

But the real oversight is the lack of honor for Reagan and Obama. Springfield already has statues of the other two presidents affiliated with Illinois — Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses Grant. Lincoln, along with his great debate opponent Stephen A. Douglas, is outside. A statue of Ulysses S. Grant as a Civil War general is inside the Lincoln Library. Grant is in full uniform and appears to be conversing with another general.

In recent years, there has been much controversy regarding statues, with the removal of those that are inappropriate. Life, though, is perhaps, more about what you build than what you remove.

Other states in recent years have stepped along these lines. Kansas has added a statue of Dwight Eisenhower. Michigan has memorialized Gerald Ford. Rapid City, S.D., has a walk of presidents and will roll out an Obama statue this summer.

Both presidents earned their place in history.

Reagan won the Cold War. “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” He cut taxes, stopped inflation and revitalized the economy. Reaching across the aisle, he reached a bipartisan deal that extended the life of Social Security.

Barack Obama steered the nation as it recovered from the Great Recession. He helped save the auto industry and stood up to terrorism. “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.” His Affordable Care Act helped millions.

Their memorials are long overdue.