Guest opinion: Eminent inventor or obscure politician?

Back in 1988, I was a history teacher at Clearfield High School.  I took a group of students to Washington D.C. Among other activities, we toured the Nation’s Capital Building where we were introduced to the Hall of Statues. 

Our small group was part of a larger tour.  The tour guide informed us, “Each state only gets two statues.  Most states at the first chance filled their two statue quota.  And many of these states have regretted their choice.”  The tour guide went on to explain, “Many states put in statues of politicians that were prominent in the state at the time.  But over the past several decades, these politicians are now obscure footnotes in history, and no one knows who they are.”  The tour guide concluded this line of thought with the following, “Once a statue is put in, even those of unknown politicians, it is difficult to swap them out because everybody has family or some sort of constituency that raises a fuss.”

Now here is where the tour got interesting for our small Utah contingent.  The tour guide said, “There are 99 statues in the hall of statues.  Only one state has not filled their two statue quota.  And that one state is Utah.”  The guide asked our large group, “Anyone from Utah.”  We raised our hands.  Then he asked us, “Do you care to guess who your one statue is?”  And we said, “probably Brigham Young.”  The guide then said, “yes… and this is a logical choice.  Without Brigham Young, Utah would not be Utah.”  

Then to the larger group the guide said, “Utah is waiting to fill their quota with someone who will be in for a long time, someone who has significant influence and impact.”

Well a few years later, Utah filled their two statue quota with Philo T. Farnsworth.  When I first heard about this choice, I thought, ‘Wow!  Brilliant!’  Mr. Farnsworth was not a politician and as the “Father of Television,” he has impacted the lives of every living human being.  Utah did it right!  Farnsworth and Young!  Other states were unwise!

Now to my shock and dismay, the Utah State Senate has passed a resolution to replace Philo T. Farnsworth with one of their own… a politician!  Sure Dr. Cannon was female.  And apparently, Dr. Cannon was the first female state legislator in the country (this is a big deal).  But still… She is an unknown politician whose broader influence, unlike Mr. Farnsworth’s, is relegated to the dusty shelves of 19th Century Utah politics.  

Here is the choice:  a person who has influenced the lives of every man, woman, and child on planet earth or an obscure pioneer politician!