April 05, 2007

Colorado Statue Honoring Fallen Navy SEAL Opposed, "Glorifies Violence"

**Welcome Michelle Malkin, forum readers--scroll for updates

--David Harsanyi (Denver Post):
A peace dove ...

You know what? When a dove can protect our children from religious fanatics who'd like to behead them, I'll visit the National Peace Dove Memorial.

For now, I look forward to taking my kids to Littleton and explaining why guys like Danny Dietz deserve to be honored.

Dietz family press conference

--City of Littleton confirms that the statue (based on the last known picture of Dietz) will proceed with the unveiling on July 4, Dietz family speaks as police officers applaud:
City officials said today a statue honoring slain Navy SEAL Danny Dietz will be erected July 4 despite opposition from a Littleton group claiming it glorified violence because he is depicted holding an automatic rifle.

The parents of Dietz offered a brief statement at the city’s community room and expressed surprise that there would be anyone who would oppose a statue honoring their son.

"The last few days have been pretty difficult for our family, but not nearly as difficult as losing our son," Cindy Dietz said. "We understand that a small number of people don’t want us to erect this sculpture. Ironically, D.J. died defending their right to disagree."

As they finished, a group of police officers watching applauded for the couple.

State Sen. Steve Ward was incensed about the controversy as he watched the couple's speech.

"This is pathetic," he said. "What’s next? Take the bombs bursting in air out of the Star Spangled Banner?"
--Dietz family press conference (video)

--Littletonian opposing the statue's placement (video)

--Milblog Black Five has a copy of the original email

--President Bush meets with Danny Dietz's family, who support the President and the war (video from last year, more from the Dietz family and other veterans last Memorial Day)

--memorial "set in stone"; the Rocky Mountain News opines:
Some have said a "peace memorial" should be erected instead. Others composed a letter that they've sent to community organizations and residents, urging them to ask the city to reconsider the location of the memorial. "In light of our community's experience with the Columbine tragedy," the letter reads, "and the clear message of non-violence that we teach in Littleton schools, what is our city thinking?"

It's thinking a lot more clearly than the protesters, that's for sure.

For one thing, trying to conflate the horror of Columbine with the courage of Danny Dietz is insulting. The Columbine killers cowardly mowed down unarmed and innocent classmates and a teacher.

By contrast, Dietz was wounded behind enemy lines during a special operations mission that was intended to apprehend a Taliban leader. When he and his three fellow SEALs were trapped by Taliban forces, Dietz and another wounded comrade stayed behind and provided enough cover fire to let another team member - the mission's sole survivor - elude capture.
. . .
The distinction is so obvious it's hard to believe a debate is taking place. Littleton is right to stand by its decision.
--Local vets oppose moving the memorial:
Meanwhile, veterans are speaking out in favor of the memorial. Tim Drago, a Vietnam Veteran who founded the Colorado Veterans Monument, said the Dietz memorial is the right image in the right place.

"It's in a prominent location. It sends a message, and for a message to be heard, people have to be able to respond to it and see it," he said.

As far as the weapon, he points to the statue of Private Joe Martinez outside the Capitol. It was unveiled in the 1980s, and Martinez is carrying an automatic weapon.

"I make this analogy, and it sounds trite, but to have a soldier without his weapon would be like having a plumber without a pipe wrench," he said. "It's a tool of their trade. It's what they use, and they should be allowed to have that weapon."

Fallen Navy SEAL Danny Dietz

A photo of Danny Dietz serving in Afghanistan, where he was killed on June 28, 2005. The proposed sculpture is based on this photo. Dietz and three other Navy SEALs were ambushed by al-Qaeda guerrillas. Dietz, 25, severely wounded, fought off attackers for more than 45 minutes, allowing one of his team members to escape.

Dietz received the Navy Cross, the Navy's second-highest medal.

Plans to honor Littleton, Co. native and fallen Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, killed while fighting al-Qaeda guerillas in Afghanistan in 2005, with a statue in a park near where he grew up has been opposed on the grounds that it "glorifies violence":
A bronze statue of fallen Navy Seal Danny Dietz is meant to honor his bravery and sacrifice, but now there is a controversy surrounding it.

Dietz was killed almost two years ago during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan. His family worked to raise the money and find the right spot for the statue: Berry Park is just a few blocks away from the home in which he grew up.

"I'm just really excited to be able to go to this park and see a likeness of my son," said Danny's mother Cindy Dietz.

However, some neighbors are concerned about the children who will walk by it because Dietz is holding his automatic rifle in the statue. One of the neighbors would not go on camera, but sent an statement saying, "We encourage the community to carefully consider the appropriateness of the proposed location. This has been, and will remain our sole intent."
Flyers opposing the statue have been posted around the community; opponents refused to go on camera for fear of "threats." (video at link)

And the statue that "glorifies violence"--heaven forbid one would think it actually depicted heroic sacrifice, and fighting for one's country:

Cañon City sculptor Robert Henderson based his clay form of Navy SEAL Danny Dietz on the last photo taken of him. (Courtesy Tracy Harmon)

Yep, very threatening. Thankfully the city of Littleton is moving forward with the statue, overruling the neighborhood moonbats:
However, the city said these concerns are coming "at the eleventh hour." A mock-up of the statue design was put on display at a city council meeting in January, and nobody voiced concerns at that point. The city will move forward with its plans.

"Based on the public feedback that we've had, I think think most of the citizens in Littleton feel like it's an appropriate selection," said Littleton City Manager Jim Woods.

Cindy said she doesn't understand the controversy. For her, the statue was a way to remember her son. "I don't believe it promotes violence. It's an American hero who gave his life for all of us," she said.
Can't top that. Only moonbats would see a statue honoring a neighborhood hero in a park just a few blocks from his childhood home and a place he undoubtedly played in as a young man as an inappropriate venue for such a tribute.

The site is a few miles from Columbine High School, and the inevitable comparison was made to the tragic school shooting there in 1999:
Linda Cuesta, whose child was at Columbine High School during the murders on April 20, 1999, told the City Council last month that it would be a mistake to put the statue where hundreds of children would pass it every day.

"After our experience with Columbine and the clear message of nonviolence that we teach within the Littleton schools - honestly, what are we thinking?" she said.

But Dietz's widow, Patsy, said Thursday that comparing the guns at Columbine with the weapon in her husband's hands is like comparing a criminal's knife with a surgeon's scalpel.

"One is used to take lives," she said. "And the other is used to save them."
Cuesta offered more commentary on the proposed statue:
And while war memorials nationwide include rifles, swords, cannons and battleships, "trends are changing," said Cuesta, who has advocated on behalf of stronger gun laws.
For moonbats it is not really about the statue--its about the guns.

Rep. Tom Tancredo got the ball rolling on the statue last year, with help from the family:
Plans for the memorial, scheduled to be unveiled July 4, began last summer after U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., asked the city to work with the Dietz family. Sculptor Robert Henderson created the statue from one of the last photos taken of Dietz before he was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. It shows a kneeling Dietz holding an M4A1 assault rifle with a grenade launcher.

"If I've got my 4-year-old at the playground, I feel it would be a threatening image that would frighten her," Fuchs said.

She said the ideal solution would be to place the statue at another location, but Dietz's family disagrees.

"What do they want us to do, stick it in a corner somewhere?" said Dietz's mother, Cindy. "It's about a hero. It's not about war, and it's definitely not about a gun."
Instead of seeing the statue as a threatening image, why not use it as a (invoking moonbat phraseology here) teachable moment? As Dietz' mother points out, the statue isn't really about the gun, but the sacrifice her son made for the country. What would the moonbats have Dietz hold, flowers?

Dietz's widow also abhors the conflation of Columbine and her fallen husband's memorial:
Reached at home Thursday in Virginia Beach, Va., Patsy Dietz, Dietz's widow, said she sympathizes with the message that guns and schools shouldn't mix, especially in the community where the Columbine shootings took place.

But to use her husband to forge such a political statement about guns is irresponsible, she said.

"It's a parent's job, including these parents who are protesting, to teach their children the difference between two thugs who murder their classmates and a soldier who died fighting for their freedom," she said. "Danny represents every soldier and sailor who has fallen, and for them to take this stand, well, that's offensive to me."
The moonbats, however, were not about to compromise:
The opposition to a war memorial is unprecedented in Jim Carrier's experience. He is a national board member for both the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and the Navy SEAL Warrior Fund, foundations that help the families of those who die in service to the country.

"They are missing the point," Carrier said. "It takes guns to defend our freedoms against terrorists when they are trying to kill you and your children."

But those who side with Cassidy see a different depiction.

"A statue of a soldier holding a child would send a better message," said Calvin Freehling, a Vietnam veteran from Indianola, Neb., who e-mailed The Denver Post. "An automatic weapon doesn't signify protection. It signifies violence. I'm 64 years old now, and I'm tired of violence."

Ann Levy of Denver, who calls herself a "peacenik," would like to see Dietz's sacrifice honored in a different way.

"They should be putting up a peace dove instead," she said. "The question is do we stand for peace or do we stand for war?"
The Latin phrase "if you want peace, prepare for war" is obviously lost on these moonbats. "Peace doves" don't teach much about heroism or sacrifice.

Thankfully the city of Littleton's Historical Museum Director responds to criticisms of weapons on display in military memorials:
Tim Nimz memo

From: Tim Nimz, Museum Director

Date April 4, 2007

Re: Military memorials in the United States

Although there appears to be no definitive hard count of military-themed memorials and monuments in the United States, my research indicates that it is safe to state that they number in the thousands. Military historians estimate that there have been more than 100,000 military engagements in the nation's 11 major wars and countless smaller actions since the late-18th century, each of them desperately important to the soldiers who fought in them, their families and loved ones, and the country they represented. Inevitably, memorials and monuments, both large and small, were erected to commemorate these conflicts and to honor the men and women who served. For example, the Civil War generated at least 1,538 military memorials; World War I produced at least 950; and the Vietnam War at least 62.

Many of these memorials are located in highly public areas. Through the first half of the 20th century, it was quite common to find a war memorial in town and city squares throughout the country. Since the end of WWII, these more generic "war" memorials have given way to monuments honoring specific individuals. Martial-themed statues, in particular, have always been very popular, dating from the time of the American Revolution through the current War on Terrorism. Most major cities, and many smaller ones, prominently display these statues in public spaces, including parks, intersections, and the grounds of government facilities. Perhaps most famous is the Minute Man Statue, commemorating the battles of Lexington and Concord which opened the Revolutionary War, located in Minute Man National Historical Park in suburban Boston. Certainly, no space in the United States is more public than the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Mall, visited by approximately 24 million people each year, hosts three major war memorials for WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

A great many of these monuments depict soldiers in uniform and carrying their service weapons, although few show the soldiers engaged in combat. The Minute Man, mentioned above, is armed with a flintlock "Brown Bess" musket (the same weapon that the opposing British Army used). Service weapons, usually sheathed or unsheathed cavalry sabers or swords, appear in many of the 56 martial-themed statues in the District of Columbia, including almost all of the equestrian statues that dominate the major street intersections. The Korean War Memorial on the Mall features statues of 19 service men in a patrol formation carrying typical military equipment, including M-1 and M-14 rifles. The Three Servicemen Statue, located next to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (the famous "wall") on the Mall, depicts three soldiers with M-16 rifles and an M-60 machine gun. The Colorado State Capitol in Denver has two military statues on the grounds, a Civil War monument/memorial with a Union soldier with gun in hand, and a statue of Joseph P. Martinez, the first Hispanic Coloradan to receive the Medal of Honor, carrying his service weapon.
Mike Rosen tackled the story yesterday (4-5-07, 9-10AM, skip to about half-way through the first hour)

--Littleton, Co. unveils honorary "Danny Dietz Drive"(video)

Related--other statues the Littleton moonbats would oppose:

Augustus St. Gaudens' Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, Boston
Too many guns.

Vietnam Memorial, DC
What, soldiers carry weapons?

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