President George H. W. Bush died on November 30, 2018 at age 94. He was laid to rest on December 6, 2018 at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, adjacent to the campus of Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum serves as historical archive providing educational and public programs that promote understanding of the presidency and the American experience. A lifelong horseman, it is perhaps fitting that visitors to the Library and Museum are greeted by a large equestrian sculpture featuring five spirited horses leaping to freedom over the Berlin Wall’s ruins. The bronze sculpture, “The Day the Wall Came Down” is the work of Veryl Goodnight, who was inspired watching television with the rest of the world as the Berlin Wall fell November 9, 1989 during which time Bush was serving as Vice President.
Originally loaned to the state of Georgia for the 1996 Olympic Games it was then moved to the Bush Presidential Library when it opened in 1997. A second monument donated to the German people, resides in Berlin. It was delivered by the U.S. Air Force on the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift and unveiled by President Bush. A third quarter size version was commissioned by Sarah and John Lindahl and presented to the CIA in 2004.
The identical full size monuments were cast by Valley Bronze Foundry of Oregon. Each took over 1 and 1/2 years to complete. Each sculpture is 30 feet long, 18 feet wide, 12 feet high and weighs approximately 7 tons. The graffiti on the western side of the Wall in the sculpture was duplicated from actual writings on the Berlin Wall. Goodnight sculpted 1 1/4 life size replicas of these four foot wide concrete panels, which stood 14 feet high and extended for 105 miles around West Berlin. In her sculpture, she broke these panels beneath the horses from the West to the East to expose the graffiti. In many places the wall was doubled and between these two barricades lay the infamous “death strip.” These walls had separated families and loved ones for over 28 years. Goodnight represents this separation by placing the stallion, symbolic of man, entirely within what would have been East Berlin. The four mares, symbolic of family, are passing the “death strip” and entering the West – to a new life of freedom.
“The horses represent a drive for personal freedom that is shared by people of all nations,” explains Goodnight. “Their actions represent a victory of human spirit. Political freedom is not granted, it is earned, and it must always be cherished, guarded and defended.”
About Presidential Libraries
The Presidential Library System began with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938. An organization was chartered to raise private funds for the construction. The following year, Congress passed a joint resolution accepting the operation of the facility as part of the National Archives. This process has since become the model for subsequent 14 Presidential Libraries.