Vaccinating Big Baby.

Vaccinating Big Baby

Field review by the editors.

Knoxville, Tennessee

America is stubbled with statues of bald, bespectacled, old men in business suits. This statue, however, is probably the only one where the old man holds a baby -- an unusually large baby. And he's sitting on the Earth, as if it's a yoga ball.

The man is William T. Sergeant, a member of the service organization Rotary International. Beginning in 1994, he threw himself into Rotary's goal of eradicating the crippling disease of polio by 2005. "Sergeant worked tirelessly, administering the polio vaccination to children," according to his official Rotary bio. "He traveled more than 100 times a year to Europe, Asia, Africa, and throughout the United States to help vaccinate children."

The sculpture captures Sergeant in what must have been a familiar pose, about to administer the oral vaccine to the big baby. But did he always don a business suit while doing it? And why is the baby so big? Or perhaps it's commonplace artistic license on Yoga Ball Earth....

The sculpture is attributed to Hungarian artist Biro Lajos (also a Rotarian) and was unveiled in Knoxville, Sergeant's hometown, on Earth Day 2005. Sergeant was still alive then, although there's no record of what he thought of his statue. Polio was still around, too, and still is, although Rotary's efforts have certainly helped restrict its range.

Sitting on the Earth.

The statue is known locally by at least one rude nickname, referencing the position of the Earth relative to Mr. Sergeant's posterior.

Vaccinating Big Baby

Address:
504 Market St. SW, Knoxville, TN
Directions:
Downtown, in Krutch Park, on the northeast corner of Market St. and Clinch Ave.
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In the region:
Monument to the Unknown Dead, Knoxville, TN - 1 mi.

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February 18, 2020

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