In 2008, a group of Missouri school children got an opportunity not only to see how state government works, but also to take an active part in the lawmaking process. They helped in the passage of legislation that gave Missouri an official state dessert—the ice cream cone. In the legislative process, the school children learned how an idea could become a law. They communicated their idea with legislators, and saw firsthand how Missouri citizens—even young people—can impact legislation in their state.
Young people are always welcome at the Capitol, and one thing that seems to be enjoyable to our young visitors is the Hall of Famous Missourians, located between the House Chamber and the Senate Chamber in the third floor rotunda. While not all of our area fourth graders will have the privilege of visiting Jefferson City, they do have the chance to learn about those prominent Missourians whose busts appear in the Capitol. When I come to speak to area fourth graders, I give each student a copy of Showing You the Show-Me State, a booklet about Missouri history and government. Included in this booklet, besides some Missouri history, information about Missouri’s government, facts about our state, and our state symbols, is information and pictures of the famous Missourians whose bronze busts are on display in the third floor rotunda.
The Hall of Famous Missourians started in 1982 to honor prominent individuals for their achievements and contributions to not only our state, but to our nation as well. Today there are forty-one inductees in this Hall. Individuals are selected for Hall status by the sitting Speaker of the House. The first inductee was Samuel Clemens (“Mark Twain”). Twain is best known for his Adventures of Huck Finn and Adventures of Tom Sawyer, two novels that are set in his boyhood home of Hannibal.
Inductees from the immediate area are George Washington Carver and Thomas Hart Benton. Carver was born in 1863 to slave parents near Diamond and began his formal education in Neosho. As a scientist, he developed more than 300 products from peanuts, 100 products from sweet potatoes, and 75 products from pecans. Additionally, he worked with soil conservation and was instrumental in helping develop modern day farming practices. Benton, the Neosho-born artist, is best known for his colorful murals that frequently created controversy. His most famous--A Social History of Missouri—can be seen today in the House Lounge of the Missouri Capitol.
The bust of Harry S. Truman is also in the Hall. Truman, born in Lamar, is one of the most highly regarded U.S. presidents in American history. Carthage-born Marlin Perkins, a zoologist and naturalist and well known for his many years as host of “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom” television show, is represented there as well. Others include baseball great Stan Musial, Jack Buck—radio voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, and who can forget Walt Disney? Or Laura Ingalls Wilder? Or Generals John J. Pershing and Omar Bradley? Or Walter Cronkite? Or Dale Carnegie? Or Sacajawea?
In my three years at your Representative, I have been privileged to be present at the installing of the last three inductees. Speaker Steve Tilley selected John “Buck” O’Neil, Dred Scott, and Rush Limbaugh as the last three individuals to be honored in the Hall of Famous Missourians.
As I visit area classrooms this week, I look forward to the opportunity to share more of Missouri’s history with these young people and help them develop a stronger appreciation for our state and the legislative process.