By Crystal Thompson
Havre resident Jack Van Koten recently returned from Panama City, Panama, where he attended a dedication for a statue he made of the late Ambassador Gabriel Lewis Galindo.
Galindo was ambassador of Panama at the time the Panama Canal Treaty was signed. Another original signer of the treaty, former President Jimmy Carter was present at the dedication ceremony. The unveiling of the statue took place on Dec. 28, 2000, with approximately 200 invited guests in attendance.
Panama President, Mireya Moscoso unveiled the monument to the audience, which included the late Galindo's wife and son. A 30-piece band played and military in formal dress saluted the many dignitaries as they arrived.
"You wouldn't believe the dignitaries that showed up," Van Koten said.
Van Koten began creating the statue three years ago. It was shipped to Panama earlier this year, to take it's place on a peninsula, located on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.
"Every ship coming through the canal can see it," Van Koten said, "It was unbelievable."
The ceremony was an exciting experience for the Van Koten family. Also attending the unveiling on the 28th were Van Koten's wife, Barbara, and his daughters Melanie Van Koten-Eve of Great Falls and Stephanie Van Koten of Corvallis, Ore.