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Archive for Wednesday, May 26, 1999

D-DAY SCULPTURE SET FOR JOURNEY

May 26, 1999

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Today will be the last chance to see local artist Jim Brothers' massive bronze sculpture "Across the Beach" without going to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va.

The 1,200-pound statue of two wounded and dying soldiers storming Omaha Beach will be displayed from noon to 7 p.m. at the Lawrence Visitors Center in the old Union Pacific Depot, 402 N. Second.

"God willing and the creek don't rise," Brothers said.

Then Brothers and a friend, Larry Adams of Dodge City, will drive the work across country to Virginia, where it will be dedicated on Memorial Day.

"Lawrence will probably never see it again," Brothers said Tuesday afternoon while he and a crew prepared to hoist the statue into a special trailer built by Eagle Trailers.

Brothers and workers from Heartland Art Bronze, a local foundry, were up late Monday putting the patina on the sculpture, the finishing touches on a work almost a year in the making.

"It's an all-Lawrence project for a coastal monument," Brothers said.

The D-Day Memorial is being built on 88 acres in Bedford, Va., because that tiny town had the highest per-capita casualty rate in the nation as a consequence of the historic June 6, 1944, beach assault that spelled the beginning of the end of Nazi German dominance in Europe.

Brothers did intensive research preparing the work, including a trip last fall to Normandy. He also studied videotape of Jack Ruby's shooting of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in order to accurately depict the expression of man who has just been shot.

"Across the Beach" represents the first two of nine figures Brothers will make for the D-Day Memorial. He's currently working on a third titled "Death on the Shore," also a 7.5-foot figure of a soldier.

The first statue is so large that Heartland Bronze had been casting it since January.

Steven Spielberg, director of the World War II movie "Saving Private Ryan," was so impressed with Brothers' work that he recently acquired a large model of "Across the Beach."

The National D-Day Memorial is slated for completion and dedication on June 6, 2000, the 56th anniversary of the historic battle.

-- Mike Shields' phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is mshields@ljworld.com.

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