12-Year-Old Ronald Reagan.

12-Year-Old Ronald Reagan

Field review by the editors.

Tampico, Illinois

Future President Ronald Reagan was born in Tampico. As a kid, he would play on an old Civil War cannon in the town park. Ninety-odd years later, the town decided to freeze that moment in bronze. The goal was to unveil the sculpture on the 100th anniversary of Reagan's birth in 2011, but fundraising delays pushed it back until 2013.

Lengthy text on an adjacent bronze tablet gives a synopsis of Reagan's life, with an emphasis on how Tampico helped make him so presidential. "As a child, he played on a cannon in this park," it reads, and that's all it has to say. Nevertheless, that was deemed worthy of a seven-year effort and a $50,000 expense.

Sculptor Ted McElhiney sculpted Reagan standing on the barrel of the cannon, which had to be created from scratch because the original cannon was melted down during World War II. Young Reagan is depicted contemplatively stroking his chin, a pose that McElhiney said the future President often struck as a boy. For some reason Reagan was sculpted as he looked at age 12, even though the family had moved out of Tampico when he was nine.

12-Year-Old Ronald Reagan.

McElhiney was a big Reagan fan. He said at the sculpture dedication that he had met Reagan once in 1980, using the secret handshake of their former college fraternity, and that Reagan should have his face added to Mount Rushmore.

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12-Year-Old Ronald Reagan

S. Main St., Tampico, IL
Downtown. On the west side of Hwy 172/S. Main St., just south of the grain elevators. In a little park (look for the flagpole). The statue is set back from the road, along a sidewalk.
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