Mr. Edison Goes to Washington - A Small Town Reaches Out for National Support

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Residents from Thomas Edison's birthplace located in the historic village of Milan, Ohio, are seeking national support for a statue of Edison. While he lived 162 years ago, Edison changed forever the sights and sounds we take for granted like electricity, recorded music and motion picture films. If you believe Thomas Edison is a great representative of America and should be represented in Statuary Hall, U.S. Capital, share your voice by writing to Senator Wagoner, Senate Building, Room 129, Columbus, OH 43215.

Milan residents representing the birthplace of the American inventor Thomas Alva Edison, continued their grassroots campaign over Labor Day weekend to rally support for a statue of this iconic figure. So-named, the "Man of the Millennium," Tom Edison may have been born 162 years ago, but his popularity was evident this past weekend at the 51st Milan Melon Festival.

Outgoing Festival Queen Heather Johnson and a recent Edison High School graduate said, "Thomas Edison came from humble beginnings and sought to improve the world not just for himself and his family, but for the right reasons, to help mankind; I think a statue in our nation's capital is very appropriate because Edison reminds us that so many things are possible."

Johnson along with Robert Wheeler, the great, great, great nephew of Thomas Edison hosted a tour of the birthplace for more than 30 Ohio festival queens and their court. "It's important to reach out to all visitors and share the story of Thomas Edison," said Wheeler. "Today his legacy continues, and it's especially important during these hard economic times. Edison succeeded despite many adversities. He was deaf from age 12 and largely self-taught, but he changed forever the sights and sounds we take for granted like electricity, recorded music and motion picture films."

During the birthplace tour one of the parent chaperones from the Brunswick Festival Queen's court remarked, "Tom Edison is one of my favorite people; right up there with Abraham Lincoln." Wheeler encouraged anyone interested to share their voice by sending a message to the statue selection committee.

Last month a site committee representing legislators and government officials gathered among Milan's historical buildings to learn more about why the Edison legacy is an important symbol for Americans. "Thomas Edison revolutionized Wall Street and the entire business world with his stock ticker," said Don Gfell, vice president of the Edison Birthplace Association and local historian. "With his electric light, he became the father of our electric age." He added Edison still is among the most prolific American inventors; he was issued 1,093 patents during his lifetime. "That's why ultimately Life Magazine named Tom Edison -- Man of the Millennium."

The decision as to whether to endorse a statue of Thomas Edison is expected to be made this spring by the National Statuary Collection Study Committee. Ohio Senator Mark Wagoner is heading the selection process according to Senate Bill 277. Letters of support for putting a Thomas Edison statue at the U.S. Capital should be directed to Senator Mark Wagoner, Senate Building, Room 129, Columbus, OH, 43215, or the website To be involved in the grassroots effort "Mr. Edison goes to Washington" contact the Edison Birthplace Association, located in Milan, OH.

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