Statue of Responsibility

2005-05-08T00:00:00Z Statue of ResponsibilityDaily Herald Daily Herald
May 08, 2005 12:00 am  • 

Caleb Warnock

DAILY HERALD

If freedom is to endure, liberty must be joined with responsibility.

Three Utah County men are at the forefront of a $300 million movement that envisions building a 21st century symbol of that message, encapsulated in a 300-foot stainless steel monument meant to bookend the Statue of Liberty.

Called the Statue of Responsibility, the project was first proposed by author and psychiatrist Viktor Frankl in his best-selling book, "Man's Search for Meaning."

"Freedom is not the last word," Frankl wrote. "Freedom is only part of the story and half of the truth. The positive aspect of freedom is responsibleness.

"That is why I recommend that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast."

Frankl, who had been a Nazi prisoner at both Auschwitz and Dachau, died in 1997 in Vienna, Austria. Several years before his death, Frankl was joined by several friends, Stephen R. Covey of Provo among them, in setting up a committee to see Frankl's idea through to completion, said Daniel Bolz, president and CEO of the Statue of Responsibility Foundation and a Payson resident.

Today the foundation boasts 61 members in 15 states and three countries, he said.

In 1997, internationally renowned Springville sculptor Gary Price was commissioned by the foundation to design a monument that captured Frankl's vision.

He chose two hands each gripping the forearm of the other as that symbol.

"Two hands gripping is a powerful human representation of responsibility," Price said in a statement provided by the foundation. "The power is in its simplicity. Gleaming in stainless steel, this monument will become a worldwide symbol of inspiration for future generations. It will stand as a respectful complement to Lady Liberty."

Price completed a 13-foot clay prototype in 2000, and is now working on a 26-foot version that engineers will use to make the monument, Bolz said. The Statue of Responsibility will be essentially the same height as the Statue of Liberty.

Price was on vacation at Lake Powell and could not be reached for comment.

The foundation hopes to have land acquired for the statue as early as the end of this year, and plans to dedicate the completed monument on July 4, 2010, he said. The group is considering locations in San Diego Harbor, San Francisco Bay, Los Angeles and Puget Sound in Seattle.

The monument is designed to have an open-air observation deck at its top, with an inside observation deck below that and two floors of restaurants and a gift shop below that. Each will be about 1,500 square feet.

Fund raising is now beginning in earnest, Bolz said. Efforts will be two pronged.

First, the group will ask California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to appoint "a high-level individual from the private sector to serve as the foundation's national spokesperson," Bolz said. The group expects to meet with Schwarzenegger soon to discuss the three California options for the statue.

Second, the group will outfit two or possibly three trailers as portable classes of responsibility, and travel the country, stopping in each of the nation's 15,000 school districts to create a grassroots youth campaign, he said.

"We will be asking the students of the school districts to make donations and pledges, and at the same time we will provide lesson plans to teach responsibility in the classrooms," he said, noting the education effort is expected to take years and could even run continuously after the statue is completed.

When asked about the need for such a statue, Bolz responded by quoting Frankl.

"In order for freedom to endure from generation to generation, liberty must be lived in terms of responsibleness," Bolz said. "These two concepts need to be in the acts, life, action, minds, hearts and souls of the citizens of a free society.

"In a free society, if your focus is only on what your rights are, that freedom will turn into arbitrariness, which becomes meaningless and slides into losing that freedom. We need this message desperately, and other countries need it as well. The U.S. needs to implicate that into the very fabric of society."

Ann Graber, a member of the religion steering committee for the Statue of Responsibility Foundation and director of distance learning for the Viktor Frankl Institute, said she became involved with the project about six months ago.

"The more I saw, the more excited I became," she said. "This is something phenomenal, grand, wonderful. Now we have another symbol to raise consciousness."

Liberty was the call to humanity of the 19th century, she said.

"Since then we've had a turbulent century of war and disturbances," she said. "Certainly we must raise our consciousness so as not to repeat what we have done in the last century. That is why we need a symbol."

For Graber, who was born in Croatia and suffered under Nazi and Communist rule, war is not distant nor conceptual. Her father was killed after putting his family on a train bound for Austria.

"When I came here as a teen from a refugee camp, seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time was indescribable," she said, suddenly weeping quietly, unable to continue for a moment.

"It was the event of my young life, and now in 2005 it will be exactly 50 years since that happened and this is why it means to much to me to spend my energy on this -- so America can be the land of the free and the brave and the responsible, and can continue to be a major source of inspiration it the world."

James McPartland, co-chair of the health and fitness committee for the Statue of Responsibility Foundation, said personal responsibility, as evidenced by an increasing obese nation, is on the wane, despite an increase in health and fitness equipment and facilities.

The statue will be a physical symbol of that national and global problem, he said.

"It represents a movement and an impassioned dream to have greater responsibility," he said.

More than just building a symbol or a statue, the project represents a campaign to draw attention toward the importance of personal responsibility, and opportunities for volunteering and teaching, he said.

For more information about the Statue of Responsibility, visit www.sorfoundation.org. To donate, send checks to 2825 E. Cottonwood Parkway, Suite 500, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84121.

Caleb Warnock can be reached at 344-2543 or cwarnock@heraldextra.com.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.

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