A graduate of Cheney High School and the University of Washington, Michael P. Anderson was a proud Washingtonian.
He was described by friends and family at his memorial service as being "a humble, deeply religious and inspirational man who lived out his dream." He was also an astronaut and a Lieutenant Colonel in the Unites States Air Force.
The artist of this sculpture, Dorothy Fowler used this description as inspiration for her 8 foot high, 600 pound bronze sculpture of Anderson. She decided on his pose after talking to his family; kneeling, in space uniform, helmet on his knee and a dove in his hand. There are three significant meanings in his pose, according to Fowler; "the kneeling position - humility; the uplifting arm and heavenward gaze - faith; releasing a dove of peace - inspiration. Fowler also quoted President Bush, who spoke about Anderson at the memorial service: 'Michael told his minister, 'If this thing doesn't come out right, don't worry about me, I'm just going on higher.'" Those words spoke to my heart and inspired my work."
On February 1st, 2003 NASA was excitedly awaiting the Columbia space shuttles' return from its 16 day mission, which Anderson was part of. The shuttle lost contact at 9:00 AM upon reentering the atmosphere. NASA didn't get too worried, as it was a common occurrence; the true worry set in when they never reestablished contact. When the space shuttle had launched a piece of foam fell off of the fuel tank and hit the wing - this had happened many times before and had never caused any problems. Despite warning from their engineers, NASA allowed the shuttle to finish its mission for the fully allotted time, during which the damaged wing began to deteriorate, weakening the structure of the shuttle. Upon reentering the atmosphere the weakened shuttle could not stand the high heat and pressure, and the seven crew members and the shuttle were lost when the shuttle disintegrated.
The statue cost $125,000, which was contributed to by private citizens, Sacred Heart Medical Center, Avista, Washington Trust Bank, and the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation.