College dedicates statue of W J Bryan
October 02, 2005
Bryan College celebrated its namesake, its heritage and its ties to the community during homecoming Oct. 1, as it dedicated a statue of William Jennings Bryan on the Rhea County Courthouse lawn.
Bryan President Dr. Stephen D. Livesay presided over ceremonies during which local, state and federal officials paid tribute to the college and its 75th Anniversary celebration. Rhea County Executive Billy Ray Patton, Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent, and state Rep. Bo Watson brought greetings and commendations, while U.S. Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander sent greetings, and U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp was represented by his district aide.
Dr. Livesay reviewed William Jennings Bryan’s career as a member of Congress and secretary of state, his leadership of the Democratic party and his role as a leading spokesman for evangelical Christianity in the early days of the 20th Century.
Sculptor Cessna Decosimo thanked a number of individuals who assisted in his research as he prepared the statue, including Dr. Richard Cornelius, Bryan’s Scopes Trial authority, and Dayton resident Eloise Reed, who as a teenager witnessed part of the Scopes Trial. Mrs. Reed was in the audience for the ceremony.
Mr. Decosimo pointed out aspects of the sculpture including Bryan’s work boots, identifying his identification with the common man that earned him the nickname “The Great Commoner”; his outstretched hand, showing his desire to meet people; and the lectern on which Bryan’s other hand is resting, containing the phrase “Truth and Eloquence,” cornerstones of Bryan’s public life, and the dates 1930 when Bryan College opened and 1891 when Bryan was elected to Congress and when the Rhea County Courthouse was built.
A community choir and the Bryan Homecoming Chorale sang several numbers, then combined to sing the National Anthem as the ceremony closed. Following festivities, the hundreds of spectators present were served pieces of a 75-foot-long birthday cake.