Woodward, Okla. —
While many memorials pay homage to the sacrifices rendered by those in the armed services, the sacrifices of the families of the servicemen and women are sometimes overlooked in those memorials.
Those sacrifices, however, are the focus of a statue Woodward's American Legion Post 19 hopes to add to Woodward's Veterans Memorial.
Dennis Smith's statue entitled "Forever Remember" focuses on the wounded hearts of those left home to wait, and the sacrifices of mothers and fathers, wives, sweethearts, and children.
Previous Commander of Post 19 Alan Case said they approached Woodward's Visual Arts Commission with interest in adding to the veterans memorial located near the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum.
"We'd talked with the Visual Arts Commission about adding something to the memorial, and Mary Ann said she thought she had just the thing in mind," said Case.
Mary Ann Hawkins, chair of the visual arts commission, had seen Smith's "Forever Remember" on display in Colorado, and immediately thought of the statue when the Legion inquired about adding to the memorial.
The statue depicts a grieving war widow seated clutching a flag to her breast and gazing off into the distance. Hawkins said there was something about the widow's windswept hair that made her feel it was a perfect fit for the plains of Northwest Oklahoma.
Case said the American Legion Post 19 is accepting tax deductible donations to help raise funds for the project.
The American Legion is a not for profit organization with a long standing history of community service. According to the organization's website, it was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization. Since then the Legion has evolved from a group of war-weary veterans of World War I into one of the most influential nonprofit groups in the United States, focusing on service to veterans, service members and communities.
Case said Post 19 in Woodward assists veterans, contributes to local charities and also provides two $1,000 scholarships to students each year.
Hawkins believes the statue will also mark the corridor for those entering Woodward as it sits in front of the veterans memorial looking up at the names of those who served as well as those who gave their lives for their country.
"Public art improves the quality of life," said Hawkins. "It shows that we're a progressive community."
You can help with the project by sending donations to P.O. Box 1462, Woodward Oklahoma, 78301 - made payable to American Legion Post 19.