New Sculpture Recalls Mackinac’s Presidential Connection

Ford Sculpture 2

A large crane takes the sculpture from the trailer and places it near the Scout Barracks for the 2013 summer season.

Many men who served as U.S. president have been to Mackinac Island. However, they were here either before or after their presidencies. President Ford was the only sitting president to come to Mackinac Island. On a 1975 visit, he and First Lady Betty Ford were guests of Governor William and Helen Milliken at the Governor’s Summer Residence, toured Fort Mackinac, attended services at Trinity Episcopal Church, and went fudge shopping.

President Ford’s connection to Mackinac Island dates back to 1929 when he served as an Eagle Scout during the first summer of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission’s Scout Service Camp. President Ford fondly recalled his scouting days at Fort Mackinac during his 1975 tour.

Additionally, this year marks the 100th anniversary of President Ford’s birth, July 14, 1913.

The sculpture, “Our President,” is the third presidential piece created by artist Thomas J. Moran. Others include George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Fabricating a human face from 1/4″ plate steel has particular limitations in the accentuation of features and determining the final outcome. Additionally, the positioning and eleven foot tall and 8 foot wide sculpture requires a great deal of inner support.

Ford Sculpture 1

Gerald R. Ford (1913 – 2006) is the only Michigan native to serve as president of the United States. He is remembered as a kind and gentle man that accepted responsibility and led our country through very challenging time with dignity and character. The goal of the artist is to create a sculpture, from a very difficult medium, that honors President Ford’s memory.

This piece will be visible for the summer of 2013 near the Scout Barracks behind Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island.

About the Artist:

Thomas J. Moran is a welder by trade. He has no formal training in art or sculpture, just a driving passion of creativity.  He works primarily with plate steel, occasionally incorporating copper and stainless steel into his work. Tom shares his metal creations by donating most of his sculptures to non-profit organizations, museums and educational facilities for fundraising opportunities or public display. The sculptures have quickly become their own tour destination around Northern Michigan, with organizations vying for donation preference. Tom started his own welding business after high school graduation in 1978. He now owns two metal fabricating facilities and employs over 100 people. 

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One response to “New Sculpture Recalls Mackinac’s Presidential Connection

  1. Yes, President Gerald Ford also is one of the very 1st eight Scouts to serve as Mackinac Island Honor Scouts when he was a boy! They were at the for the whole summer of 1929, staying at the Officer’s Stone Quarters. We so appreciate the hard work and great help they were to the island, fort, and tourists as they paved the way for 1 of the 2 or 3 Honor Scouts teams serving state and national parks. The new statue by artist Thomas J. Moran is a magnificent, interesting piece. It will also highlight the scout story that is still going stron today. Would love to have an Eagle Scout statue as well permanently at the barracks or fort grounds.

    A BIG thank you to Helen Milliken and her family for achieving opportunities for 6th-12th grade Michigan Girl Scouts. Mackinac Island Honor Scouts are very respectful, responsible people who are also fun-loving teens who you can be proud of. From assisting tourists to cleaning up parks to formal flag raising and lowering ceremonies done at the same time at 26 flag posts throughout the fort, grounds, post cemetery, Governor’s mansion and downtown. 2014 will be the 40th Anniversary of Girl Scouts serving as MIHS teams.

    – Cheryl Morris, MIHS Troop #7901

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