Proclaiming "it's morning again in California," Republican lawmakers and political veterans gathered in the Capitol on Monday morning to unveil an 8-foot tall, 800-pound bronze statue of former California Gov. and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
Joining the commemoration were officials who served in Reagan's presidential administration, including former Secretary of State George Shultz.
"The reality is that Ronald Reagan is alive for all of us because his ideas last," said Shultz. "Why do the ideas last? Because they worked."
Former U.S. Energy Secretary John S. Herrington said the statue -- which is located in the lower rotunda of the Capitol on the basement level -- captures the essence of the 40th president.
"I want you to look at the face -- the face that has the resolute expression of conviction that President Reagan always had. Look at the outstretched hand, reaching for anyone who believed in freedom and liberty and those who wanted it in America," he said.
"Here with this statue we can thank him again for giving us pride in America and pride in ourselves."
The legislation that allowed the statue passed with bipartisan approval in 2012. But the lawmakers in attendance Monday were overwhelmingly Republican and many of the speakers struck wistful notes of Reagan's time in office, in contrast to the present day, when Democrats hold the White House and overwhelming political power in Sacramento.
"I wish I could stand here and say it's morning again in America," said Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), evoking Reagan's signature campaign slogan. "I can't. But I can say it's morning again in California, at least this day, at this particular time."
Douglas Elmets, chair of the Ronald Reagan Centennial Capitol Fundation said the sculpture was funded entirely by private donors, including media magnate Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Perenchio, a major GOP donor and former Univision chief executive.
An exact replica of the statue will also be installed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley later this year.
"I think we're going to see, as the years go by, the greatness of a man," said Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) after the statue's unveiling. "Reagan stood at 6-feet-1. Now, he is 8 feet tall."
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