What a difference 150 or so years make.
More than a century and a half after railroad barons excluded Chinese workers in their photograph marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad, a memorial to those workers is being erected at the State Capitol building.
Utah State Senator Karen Kwan joined the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association for the groundbreaking on Tuesday, reported the Salt Lake Tribune.
She described it as “very emotional to be able to honor my ancestors in this way.”
KSL Radio reports the state hopes the monument will remind visitors of the importance of Asian immigrants to the building of the country.
The monument will also have a plaque honoring Native Americans, former slaves, and Latter Day Saints.
“Two members of my family actually were on the transcontinental railroad,” said Wilson Lee who attended the ceremony. “One hundred sixty-one years later, our ancestors are looking down on us on this historical day.”
Architect Porheang Ear designed the monument made of both corten and stainless steel along with layers of granite and sandstone.
“As we stand here, we are reminded of a time when the dreams of connecting the east and west coast of the United States seemed like an insurmountable challenge,” Ear said, according to the Tribune. “The completion of the transcontinental railroad was a monumental achievement that reshaped the destinies of our nation.”