The development of the Spirit of Freedom Tour is centered around two national monuments designated as: The National Monument to the United States Constitution which weighs 5 tons and stands 9’ tall and The United States Presidency Monument which weighs 20 tons and stands 17' tall. They are tied indelibly to the originally commissioned five bronze Commemorative Bicentennial Plaques of The American Constitution and its Bill of Rights. The United States Presidency Monument is prominently displayed outside the main entrance of the Spirit Pavilion and the National Monument to the United States Constitution is the centerpiece of the atrium in the Spirit Pavilion.
History of the Monuments
Former Chief Justice of the United States, the late Warren Burger, was the Chairman of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution from 1985 through 1990. During that time, the most significant projects he commissioned were the construction of two magnificent monuments: the United States Presidency Monument, a.k.a the Presidency Bicentennial Monument and the Monument to the Bicentennial of the Constitution, aka the Spirit of Freedom Monument.
Noted artist, Brett Livingstone Strong, received the commission to design and sculpt these masterpieces. His skill and interest led him to a further relationship with the commission and a private foundation that additionally commissioned him to recreate the original American Constitution and Bill of Rights documents in exact detail on bronze plaques. The Constitutional plaque sets would accompany the Constitutional Monument during its historic Bicentennial travels.
On September 17 1987, the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution, "The Spirit of Freedom" (Constitutional) Monument was dedicated and unveiled by President Ronald Reagan at the Bicentennial of the American Presidency celebration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
The Constitutional Monument and the Plaque Sets were granted “official recognition” status by Warren Burger and the Bicentennial Commission on October 17, 1989. At the same time the Monument to the U.S. Presidency was granted “official recognition” by the Commission. The Presidency Monument was designed to be placed permanently at the south portico of the White House, while The Constitutional Monument, was slated for a national tour in association with the commemorative plaques.
In 1994, the artist Brett Strong and the singer Michael Jackson teamed up to create the Jackson-Strong coalition. Part of their mission was to fulfill the original mandate of permanently placing the Presidency Monument at the south portico of the White House. Mr. Jackson moved the Presidency Monument to Washington, D.C. however, years of bureaucratic requisites and the dissolution of the Jackson-Strong Coalition forced the warehousing of the monument in Northern Virginia.
Location of Monuments
Both national monuments are currently displayed on the grounds of Markel Corporation's national headquarters in Richmond, Virginia.