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Tag Archives: Military

Special Forces Monument

In my home town of Woodland Park, we have a lot of soldiers. The Army’s Ft. Carson is 40 minutes down the pass and we hear often about another soldier from the base who’s not coming home from war.

“Fergy” was a Master Sergeant with the 10th Special Forces Group, a Green Beret. A friend introduced me to his wife and we began to talk about creating a place where Fergy would be remembered. I was invited to attend a ceremony at the 10th Group where they honored the fallen. Names were read and families recognized. At the center of the ceremony they had erected a battle cross; boots, rifle, beret, and dog tags standing straight and silent in their tribute.

We talked about this image and she told me this was how she wanted to honor her husband.

Creating a military memorial is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. I learned 20 years earlier, with my first military sculpture, that the work and detail must be correct. But, more important than just creating an accurate sculpture, I have to tell the story well. I have to take cold, impersonal bronze and mold something that connects with the heart; deeper than mere accuracy in the detail.

So, I sculpted the battle cross as correctly as I could and placed it In the park, in the middle of town on top of a large piece of Pikes Peak granite.

But, his story is presented in the personal. He was serving in the desert when he died, so I created a helmet with desert goggles. I made molds and cast replicas of his dog tags.The 10th Special Forces Group guidon is sculpted so it drapes over the granite base. Military coins were added as if they’d been left there by friends. Fergy’s Master Sergeant stripes, his name patch and his service ribbons were modeled onto the banner.

The sobering truth is that this monument to Fergy will outlive us all. I have to tell his story well to assure that the future will know him. His grandchildren will someday stand here. If my effort was successful, they will see, and feel, and know his story.

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Military Memorials

Gold Star Moms

I received a couple of emails this morning from two Gold Star Mothers. They both watched their sons leave for the war in the desert; both bold and ready and strong. And then … an awful day … he’s not coming home. His presence now is in proud pictures, precious memories, and a folded flag.

They asked about a sculpture to help honor their sons. How am I qualified to step into that place… with them? I’m not. But I will do my best.

Military images should be easy; soldiers, guns, drama. The easy stuff can be found on the walls of tattoo parlors; crazed warriors, muscles bulging, guns blazing, piles of skulls, smoke and fire…

But how do you sculpt honor and dignity and sacrifice? I’m trying to learn. I know that when a mom holds one of my sculptures in her hands and it is supposed to tell her story and her son’s story, I feel the weight of that moment. So, when I’m alone in my studio, shaping the clay in front of me, all those families and fallen soldiers are looking over my shoulder … whispering … so I get the story right.

 

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