Those involved in the Chase County Veterans Memorial groundbreaking ceremony May 15 on the courthouse grounds included, from left, Kasey McArthur, Michal Swanson, David Oxford Sr., Eric Gonzales, Pastor David Kahle, Bud Statz, Lorena McArthur and Bob Thomas. Gold painted shovels were used for the turning of ground on a northeast section of the lawn. (Johnson Publications photo)

Sculptor Fred Hoppe of Columbus unveils the second piece of the bronze sculpture of a praying soldier at last week’s groundbreaking. (Johnson Publications photo)

Ground broken for Veterans Memorial; work starts soon

Unveiling of bronze sculpture at center of May 15 event

    It couldn’t have been more timely.
    Just 12 days ahead of Memorial Day, groundbreaking for the Chase County Veterans Memorial complemented a sunny day during a May 15 ceremony on the courthouse lawn.
    Not only did members of the VFW Post 4688 turn ground at the site, attendees got their first look at the bronze sculpture of a praying soldier unveiled by artist Fred Hoppe of Columbus.
    The 100% bronze sculpture depicts a soldier praying at the scene of a fellow soldier’s temporary grave, Hoppe said.
    “It’s a one-of-a kind,” he said.
    “I’ve never done one with a soldier and his helmet off and dog tags in hand,” he said.
    That’s significant since Hoppe has created more than 180 sculptures across the U.S. More than 100 of them are of soldiers created to honor the country’s veterans, he said.
    One of his most well-known works in Nebraska is the life-size bronze of Tom Osborne and Brook Berringer outside Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
    Another is the world’s largest wildlife sculpture at the Cabela’s store in Kansas City.
    He has four sculptures on Normandy Beach in France. Two of his works are in the White House, and others are in the homes and offices of former President George H.W. Bush, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Ross Perot and Dolly Parton, among others.
    He believes the bronze sculpture here will last 6,000 years, adding with a smile, “Call me if it doesn’t.”
    The sculpture will be located in the center of the memorial.

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