The statue of Cardinal James Gibbons, located at 16th St and Park Dr, NW in Washington D.C. President Herbert Hoover addressed the crowd at the statue’s unveiling on August 14, 1932 – the 50th anniversary of the Knights of Columbus
It is nearly impossible to visit Washington without encountering the legacy of the Knights of Columbus. Largely due to the lobbying efforts of members of the Order, the U.S. Congress passed a law that mandated the establishment of a Columbus Memorial in the U.S. capital. Supreme Knight Edward Hearn was on the planning committee of the construction project and it was dedicated on June 8th, 1912 by President William H. Taft with 20,000 Knights in attendance. In keeping with their patriotic mission, Fourth Degree Knights raised $500,000 for the World War II Memorial dedicated in 2004 near the National Mall. In addition, the Knights financed the construction of the majestic 329 foot “Knights’ Tower” at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. More recently, in 2007, the Incarnation Dome of the Basilica became another one of the Knights’ lasting contributions in the District.
For more than a century, the Knights have also contributed to the Catholic University of America, first in 1904 by contributing more than $55,000 for the establishment of the chair in American History, then in 1914 by funding a $500,000 endowment, then again, after WWI, by creating the Columbus University for returning veterans which then merged in 1954 with the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. In 1965, the Order established the Pro Deo And Pro Patria Scholarship Fund for students entering Catholic colleges or universities in the United States and, in Aug. 1989, instituted the Bicentennial of the U.S. Hierarchy Fund, to the benefit of the University, in the amount of $2 million. More recently, the Knights funded the $8 million renovations of what has become McGivney Hall, home of the John Paul II institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.
As important as the Knights’ legacy in stone and at key Washington institutions are the countless lives touched by the charitable work that Knights have done and continue to do for their neighbors in the District through numerous programs for the less fortunate. In Washington, as in thousands of communities around the world, that is the Knights’ greatest legacy.