Johnny Cash’s legacy has already been firmly cemented into American history, and well beyond his contributions to country music. As one of the most well-recognized and respected citizens of the United States, from his championing of the incarcerated and Native Americans, to raising awareness for the poor, and a proud legacy of charitable efforts, he’s beloved by many people around the world for reasons well beyond “Ring of Fire.” Only fitting that he would become the first country music artist, and one of the few cultural icons beyond the political realm to ever to have his likeness memorialized in the United States Capitol right beside many of the other men and women who’ve helped shape the history of the republic.
On Thursday (4-11), Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill that will allow a statue of Johnny Cash to stand the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection in Washington. Each state gets to pick two figures they believe best represent their region’s contributions to America, and for Arkansas, that’s Dyess native Johnny Cash. Civil Rights icon Daisy Bates was also selected for a new statue to replace two former politicians from the state whose statues currently reside in the hall.
“This is an extraordinary moment recognizing the contributions of two incredible Arkansans,” said Gov. Hutchinson, who was joined at the signing ceremony and press conference by Johnny Cash’s famous daughter Rosanne Cash. “We want our memories, through our statues, to tell the story of Arkansas. I believe our story is well represented by these two historic figures.”
Rosanne Cash said of her father, “He said quite often that he loved every rock, every tree, every clot of earth in Dyess, Arkansas,” and called Arkansas “the wellspring from which he drew his inspiration.” Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas in 1932, and was raised in Dyess where his boyhood home now acts as a museum.
Before the imposing figure of Johnny Cash can take its rightful place in the United States Capitol to judge the press and politicians with his godly countenance as they pass by, funds first have to be raised for its construction either through public action or private donation. Then the Capitol will have an important country music figure holding court until someone has the guts to say why Johnny Cash doesn’t belong there.