June 6th, and the National D-Day Memorial


Death On Shore, Jim Brothers, Bronze

It was 10 years ago that those great people at the National D-Day Memorial informed me I had been hired as their art consultant, thus allowing me to avert bankruptcy.  I can’t describe what an honor this was, working with veterans like Bob Slaughter and Charles Schulz, listening to all the stories as we did the research, then watching as Jim Brothers brought to life the set of monuments that have made this site legendary.

Are the works traditional?  You bet.  Do I regret this?  Not at all.  Traditional figures are what the veterans wanted, and that is what we bloody well gave them.  Unlike other sorts of monumental sculpture in public installations, veterans tend to prefer traditional work.  This, for them, best relates to their sacrifices and lifelong hardships–the aftermath of battle’s horror.  I would never question that, nor make the presumption of knowing better than they.  It was merely Jim’s job, and mine, to make sure the work wasn’t shallow or predictable. 

I have plenty of other projects where edgy, provocative, and perplexing sculpture is called for, and in fact is what works best.  But on projects like this, no way.  Just watching those vets smile, and weep, at the time of dedication, told me we had made the right choices.

2 thoughts on “June 6th, and the National D-Day Memorial

  1. How soon we forget what war is all about…death and disabilties and mental anquish. Very appropriate to so graphically illustrate this. We too often show war as the hero who came home and try to put the awful reality to the side. Such art challenges us to remember.

  2. Thanks. When I first suggested to the D-Day committee that we put a dead infantryman on the beach, they were a little reluctant–that is the politicians were. (The veterans had no reluctance about it.) But when the vets and I reminded the politicos that over 4000 allies died that day, as well as hundreds of civilians, all reluctance vanished. From there forth, we were completely unified on this candid approach.

    Of course making the decision was easy. Jim Brothers had the hard part: he had to sculpt the piece, and do it at world-class caliber. I think it’s apparent that he surpassed all expectations.

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