- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

A replica of a World War I victory statue eerily disfigured during the invasion of Normandy will be donated by France to the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va.
The original 10-foot bronze statue, which depicts a woman in torn robes and a battle helmet, was erected in 1921 in the village of Trevieres, about five miles from the Allied landing point at Omaha Beach. It was originally designed to honor villagers who died in World War I, but took on a greater symbolic meaning during the Allied invasion on June 6, 1944, when shrapnel opened a cavity in the statue's face from just beneath the nose to the middle of the neck. The damage, seen as symbolic of the ravages of war, was never repaired.
"The National D-Day Memorial Foundation is delighted with the news that the community of Trevieres will make available to us their marvelous victory statue from World War I," said William A. McIntosh, president of the D-Day Memorial Foundation. "The tradition of the statue at a site such as this is rich and honored, and we are pleased to carry it on in this country, just as the tradition of the French providing sculpture for our nation is rich and we will be pleased to honor that as well."
Memorial architect Byron Dickson first discovered the little-known statue, dubbed the "Lady of Trevieres," on a trip to France in 1998 and called the piece "brutal and beautiful."
"At the time, we didn't think much of it except that it was a really dynamic piece," he said.
Mr. Dickson said he and sculptor Jim Brothers later came up with the idea of trying to bring the statue to America. They approached Bedford Mayor Mike Shelton, who is also vice chairman of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation.
"When I first saw the statue, and particularly the story behind it, it was really very moving," Mr. Shelton said. "As we talked about it further, I really caught on to their vision and how this serves as the French commemorative."
The memorial includes an as-yet unoccupied space to honor the French. French representatives had repeatedly expressed their interest in contributing something to the memorial, which was dedicated by President Bush last month on the 57th anniversary of D-Day.
"From our perspective at the National D-Day Memorial, the further story this statue tells is about liberation and the devastation of war on the citizenry," Mr. Shelton said.
When he traveled to France in February, he said he was surprised by the cooperation he received. While officials in the village of 3,000 did not wish to part with the statue, they agreed to let a cast be made. Contributions from a private French-American donor, the American Society of the French Legion of Honor, and the Conseil de Normandie, will cover construction and shipping costs.
"I was floored. I began to question my own negotiating skills," Mr. Shelton said. "To sit and be received so well and so openly and so warmly was very moving to me."
While there had been hopes the statue would arrive in time for Veterans Day in November, officials say they expect to dedicate it next May on Memorial Day.
It will be featured in a circular display area lined with benches just outside the main monument grounds. A 60-foot walkway will lead to the site of the statue.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide