Chronicles of Oklahoma

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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 16, No. 1
March, 1938

By Thomas H. Doyle

Page 52

Mr. President, your Excellency Governor Marland, Mr. Moss Patterson, representing donor, Mr. Frank Phillips, honored guests, ladies and gentlmen:

This is an occasion on which the best emotions of the human heart are inspired, and on which sentiments most highly honorable to the human character are called to mind. You have assembled today to pay honor to the memory of two of our country's illustrious and heroic dead. This day and hour the State of Oklahoma unveils to the world bronze portrait busts of Will Rogers and Wiley Post, her two most famous sons, whose great deeds, well done, and achievements of high renown in the advancement of civilization adorn the pages of our country's history.

We do honor to ourselves in dedicating these appropriate memorials to their memory.

All civilized and semi-civilized peoples have made the effort to perpetuate in some tangible form the memory of their great and noble dead.

This memorial is sometimes a mausoleum, sometimes a bronze or marble tablet, and sometimes a statue in stone or metal. Often however, it is a portrait bust in marble or monumental bronze.

The influences of the illustrious dead are always active in the affairs of the world and the wish has been strong in every age to perpetuate their form and features and to transmit them to posterity.

It is the singular province of art to break down the limitations which separate the generations of men from each other and allow those of past generations to be comrades and associates of those now living.

In this field, the sculptor and the painter have ever been rival laborers, and the museums of the world contain their famous

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efforts to represent important events in human history, and to preserve the forms and true features of the greatest and best of the world's memorable men.

The Congress of the United States, appreciating the historical value to future generations by the collection of statues of those prominent in history, has provided that each State of the Union could place in Statuary Hall, two statues in honor of those two of her citizens whom it might deem most worthy of the distinguished honor.

The Nation's capitol is enriched with monuments, statues, and busts, commemorating the valor and heroic deeds of soldiers and the ilustrious names of statesmen, publicists, scientists, and others who did great deeds for their country and their countrymen.

It is acknowledged to be one of the best methods for the diffusion of knowledge among men.

States are not great except as men may make them.

No state in the Union has progressed so rapidly in all that pertains to civilization as has our own beloved Oklahoma.

A state can perform no more graceful act than to make public record of the deeds and accomplishments of its famous sons.

The Oklahoma Historical Society is distinctively a State Institution, organized for the purpose of assisting the state to perform its recognized duties in the fields of history. Its collections, library and other possessions are public property, freely accessible to all under such restrictions as are necessary to insure their preservation.

The Society owes its origin to the Oklahoma Press Association, at its annual meeting held at Kingfisher on May 27, 1893.

The Act making the Oklahoma Historical Society the trustee of Oklahoma Territory was approved by Governor Renfrow, February 21, 1895.

Under Section 2, Schedule of the State Constitution, it evolved as the trustee in perpetuity of the State.

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The Society blazed the path in collecting historical manuscripts and materials that should remain in Oklahoma to be accessible to her people and to the students of her history.

The work that the society is doing is worthy of the sympathy and aid of every Oklahoman who is interested in the past, present, and future of our great State; and in doing its work the watchwords of the Society are Truth, Honor, and Patriotism, and we feel and know what the influence and inspiration of those words mean.

Many of the incidents of Oklahoma history are epic in their proportions.

That the future generations of our people may know the splendid story of Oklahoma as we know it, let us hope that some of the more prosperous men of the State will actively co-operate in its development here as elsewhere in other states, by beneficent contributions to the Society's collections.

One great advantage of tangible memorials, especially the statue and the portrait bust, over the printed page is that the former are seen and understood by all, while the pages of history are turned only by students and by those who have a certain degree of education and interest.

It is well then that the lives of the great and noble dead be cherished and their noble deeds recorded by inscriptions for the public eye, and by likeness in monumental bronze.

These exquisite works of art, bronze portrait busts of Oklahoma's most famous sons, are the likeness, our people desired to preserve for themselves and for the oncoming generations, and in this beautiful Temple of History they will ever serve as an inspiration to the youth of the land who will visit these marble halls, and muse in these corridors, "to dream, to dare and to do."

That which makes a state is the character of its citizens. One of the strongest influences in the molding of character is the example of the heroes of the past. Preservation of the history of those who helped to make and mould the nation and the state

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is, therefore, essential to the maintenance of patriotism and to pride of State.

Credit then must be given to the impressive influences of enduring memorials placed in our state houses and in our parks, commemorating the worthy deeds of our distinguished dead.

It is then a direct benefit to the State and aid to good government and to the realization of the highest civic ideals to place where all can see, memorials reciting the virtues and the heroic deeds of distinguished citizens, whose splendid achievements are the inspiration of our youth to give also of their best, in patriotic effort; to make our country great in the character of its citizens, great in accomplishment of high ideals, and great in the enjoyment by all of the blessings of liberty.

It is patriotic to be proud of your State. The glory of a state consists in the achievement of her sons and daughters.

Long and glorious is the roll of names which imperial Oklahoma has written on the pages of her history; men who have been brave and valiant in battle; men who have been wise in the councils of the nation, and men who have been incorruptible in performance of public duty, men whose names stand for courage, duty, and heroism, and foremost above all others are the illustrious names of our distinguished dead, which these memorials so appropriately commemorate. Will Rogers and Wiley Post, illustrious for their historic renown, and distinguished in civic services.

These two men, native sons of Oklahoma, most justily deserve that this honor should be conferred to their memory. Two immortals:

"Whose works shall last,
Whose names shall shine as the stars on high,
When deep in the dust of a ruined past,
The labors of selfish souls shall lie."

So much has been said of those whose features these bronze busts are designed to perpetuate that I will not detain you in re-

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calling their great deeds known to all. Others have told you today and others will tell of their eminent services to their country.

I am proud to recall the pleasure of my acquaintance with Will Rogers in his early manhood, and will only say, that in his person and character, he was the incarnation of every trait and attribute that has made the name "American" a glory to our people.

Well may Oklahoma be proud of:

"One of the few, the immortal names,
That were not born to die."

I regret not to have had the pleasure of knowing Wiley Post.

When by a tragic accident their famous careers ended they went down to the grave mourned by the civilized world.

Their lives were well worth the living, and when they died they left their best and truest monuments in the hearts and in the memories of their countrymen. They died carrying on, which calls to mind the lines:

"To live with fame,
The Gods allow to many, but to die
With equal lustre is a blessing Heaven
Selects from all her choicest boons of fate,
And, with a sparing hand, on few bestows."

Wiley Post unaided by the fortuitous circumstances which sometimes lend success to many, commenced his high career. You know his deeds and his fame. His place is foremost among the aviation heroes of history. He was the first to circle the globe; his next great exploit was flying alone around the world. Starting out the third time to accomplish the feat in company with Will Rogers, they met their tragic end on the desolate wastes of Alaska.

His death in the wreck of his air ship, makes mindful the lines:

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"So the struck eagle,
Stretched upon the plain,
No more 'mid rolling clouds
To soar again,
Viewed his own feather
On the fatal dart
Which winged the shaft
That quivered in his heart;
While the same plumage
That had warmed his nest
Drank the last life-drop
From his quivering breast."

The dedication of enduring memorials in grateful recognition of the eminent services of great and noble men inspires others to brave deeds and sacrifices and perpetuates the history of such men and their achievements.

Within this shrine of imperishable stone these magnificent memorials will ever be preserved by our society, and shall commemorate through the coming ages the patriotism and distinguished services to their country of Oklahoma's two most famous sons, as a remembrance of their great deeds and achievements. They will also ever remain as mementoes of the beneficence, patriotism, public spirit and high character of the donor, Mr. Frank Phillips, and of the gratitude and thankful appreciation of all the people of our State for these munificent gifts.

I now have the pleasure to accept in behalf of our State and in behalf of our Society, these bronze portrait busts as memorials of our great and noble dead.

But I shall have only half performed my duty did I fail again to express and extend to Mr. Frank Phillips, our beneficent donor, and to Mr. Moss Patterson, his representative, the profound thanks of the People of Oklahoma and of our Society, which in part, I have the honor to represent.1

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