The U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument and the Not Forgotten Fountain pays tribute to the Dog Handlers and their military dog partners since WWII. The highly detailed bronze Dog Handler in full combat gear is 9-1/2 foot high and the four military dog breeds are over 5 foot in height. There are two 1.3 times life size figures in the Not Forgotten Fountain sculpted by Slater as well.
For this to be designated a NATIONAL Monument, it needed the passing of Congressional and Senate legislation, and had to be signed into law by President George W. Bush and was later approved and amended by President Barack Obama. The project was years in the making and the location of Lackland Air Force Base was chosen because this is where the majority of military dogs and their handlers are trained. Off to the side of the main Monument in its own contemplative courtyard is the bronze Not Forgotten Fountain. It is composed of a Vietnam War era Dog Handler pouring water from his canteen into his helmet for his military German Shepherd to drink. The space allocated for the Monument required extensive granite, landscaping, night lighting, water feature/fountain and flag poles as well as the seven huge bronze sculptures.
John Burnam, president of the John Burnam Monument Foundation, shared with me his design concept behind the National Monument, but what really touched me was the story he shared of the thousands of military working dogs which were crated and ready to be air lifted to safety at the end of the Vietnam War, only to be downgraded to non-essential equipment and left on the tarmac. Hearing this story touched me deeply and I knew this was a project I was meant to sculpt. We collaborated on the main monument sculptures, the Not Forgotten Fountain design and the extensive granite supplied by Keith Monument (a company I had used previously on my Lincoln Monument project).
This was a project that checked all the boxes of what inspires me most--it is filled with history and bravery and heroism. This National Monument was a story that needed to be told in bronze and granite. It is a story of man and animal working together for the good, dedicated to saving lives. I believe good art, has the ability to tell stories that inspire our souls and open our minds to something larger than ourselves. Great art, has the ability to heal the wounded heart.
U.S. Military National Monuments
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