"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Richard Evelyn Byrd

This statue of RAdm. Richard E. Byrd “pitting his will power against the polar elements and envisioning the scientific accomplishments of the future”  stands in Arlington Cemetery's “Avenue of Heroes.” (Felix de Weldon quoted by Goode 1974.)

Sculptor Felix de Weldon sculpted the statue in 1959.  The photo below from the Washington Star shows de Weldon making finishing touches on the plaster model of the statue.

He signed it on the admiral's boot.

Felix  de Weldon, Sc.

The Byrd  monument was dedicated on Monday Nov. 13, 1961. 

As the Washington Star photo above shows, in attendance were Navy Secretary Connally (with an eye patch), Vice President Lyndon Johnson, the admiral's brother Senator Harry Flood Byrd of Virginia, and Melville Bell Grosvenor of the National Geographic Society. (Star Staff photo by Randolph Routt)

In another photo by Randolph Routt, entitled “Raptured Look”, Marie Byrd and their son Lt. Comdr. Byrd, jr., visit the statue on the 19th of November.

The front  panel of the white marble base introduces us to Admiral Byrd.

Richard Evelyn Byrd
Rear Admiral United States Navy
October 25, 1888 - March 11, 1957

Upon the Bright Globe He Carved
His Signature of Courage

Erected By National Geographic Society

The monument describes Byrd's role in exploring both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, on the left and right panels respectively.

Arctic Region
First to Fly Over the North Pole  1926
And the South Pole  1929.
A Pioneer Conqueror of the Atlantic by Air  1927

Antarctic Region
Valiant Leader of
Five Antarctic Expeditions  1928-1957
Which Revealed the Secrets of
Half the Great White Continent

On the back of the base we find a long list of honors bestowed on Admiral Byrd.

Richard Evelyn Byrd


Congressional Medal of Honor 1927
Navy Cross 1930
Distinguished Service Medal 1926, 1940
Legion of Merit 1944. 1946
Distinguished Flying Cross 1927
Commendation Medal 1944
Silver Life-Saving Medal 1922
Medal of Freedom 1957

1928-30 Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal 1930
Second (1933-35) Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal 1936
1939-41 United States Antarctic Expedition Medal 1945
Antarctic Service Medal for 1946-1947, 1955-1957 1960

National Geographic Society Hubbard Medal 1926
Geographic Society of Chicago Helen Culver Gold Medal 1926
Geographic Society of Philadelphia Elisha Kent Kane Medal 1929
Smithsonian Institution Langley Gold Medal for Aerodynamics 1929
American Geographical Society David Livingston Centenary Medal 1929
Geographic Society of Chicago Gold Medal 1930
National Geographic Society Special Medal of Honor 1930

Honored by Many Countries for His Explorations and Heroism

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