During a thunderstorm in February 1911, lightning struck the Missouri Capitol dome. The ensuing fire destroyed much of the building.
When the Capitol building was reconstructed, the decorating committee was required to select those virtues that make a people great. The committee chose 14 virtues, which were engraved in stone in the House of Representatives’ chamber.
The 14 characteristics are: Charity, education, enterprise, equality, fraternity, honor, justice, knowledge, law, liberty, progress, temperance, truth and virtue.
In a tradition that still continues today, when I served in the Missouri House I asked schools in my legislative district to select students that exemplified one of these virtues. These 14 students, along with their parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and school administrators, were invited to Jefferson City to receive a legislative proclamation honoring them for receiving a “Glory of Missouri Award.”
Those who came to Jefferson City would hear remarks from members of the executive branch, have an opportunity to tour the Capitol and visit the state Supreme Court building. It was a pleasure to honor these young people for their positive achievements. I recognized that they would be the future leaders in our schools, our churches, our businesses and even our government.
A Chinese proverb states that if your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for 10 years, plant trees. But if your vision is for a lifetime, plant people. I began to co-sponsor the Glory of Missouri Award day to provide recognition to young achievers in our local schools. These young achievers often receive little attention because they do good, not bad.
Our local schools did and continue to do an excellent job of “planting people.” But when I was in the Missouri Legislature, not enough recognition was given to their harvest. Perhaps it is natural to focus on the worst in society, but I wanted to ensure that the outstanding students representing Missouri’s 14 virtues were not overlooked.
It has been almost two decades since I last served in the Missouri House (2002).
The young people who earned the Glory of Missouri Award during my four terms are now young adults. They are now leading busy and productive lives. They were assets to their schools, and I am sure they are now assets and role models to society.
It was my pleasure to recognize these young people when I served. I wish them continued success in whatever field they have chosen.