Bipartisan one-sentence legislation designating the St. Louis Gateway Arch as the official state monument needs one final vote on Friday from the Missouri House, before heading to the governor’s desk.
The bill sponsor, State Rep. Dale Wright (R-Farmington), tells Missourinet that students from Farmington’s Jefferson Elementary School discovered that Missouri doesn’t have an official monument. The students and their teacher, Janice Chatman, asked him to sponsor the bill. Wright did so, and the students traveled to Jefferson City earlier this year to testify for it.
“You know, most of our kids in school, they study about governance and they talk about it, but they don’t really get to participate in it. And here, these kids got to participate in their governance,” Wright says.
The Arch is 630 feet tall, making it the tallest man-made monument in the nation. The Arch is located in the district of State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge (D-St. Louis).
“I think it’s so cool how our youth in the state of Missouri was able to say they wanted to see something like this happen. And the Representative (Dale Wright) filed it, and like he said, it’s one hurdle away to actually becoming law,” says Aldridge.
Wright, a conservative Republican, and Aldridge, a progressive Democrat, have teamed up on the bill. Representative Aldridge praises Wright for filing the bill, and says it’s helping to bridge the urban-rural divide at the Capitol.
“There’s just something about the Arch that has so much history that brings people to the Arch that want to see it. I think this is a really good bill, and it’s a good way to show just because the gentleman (Representative Wright) does not live in St. Louis City, that we can do positive stuff for other parts of the areas,” Aldridge says.
The Arch, which was completed in 1965, is 43,000 tons. It’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument. The Arch’s website notes that planning for the monument began in 1935, when then-President Franklin Roosevelt (D) designated property near the St. Louis riverfront to be developed as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. That is now known as Gateway Arch National Park.
The bill needs one more House vote by Friday at 6 p.m., before it would go to Governor Parson. Representative Wright believes the governor will sign the bill, and would like him to come to the Farmington school for the bill-signing ceremony. Wright says the students could also come to Jefferson City for a ceremony.
The Senate bill containing the Wright-Aldridge Arch language is Senate Bill 72, which is sponsored by State Sen. Karla Eslinger (R-Wasola).
Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Reps. Dale Wright (R-Farmington) and Rasheen Aldridge (D-St. Louis), which was recorded at the Statehouse in Jefferson City on May 13, 2021:
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