- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

BROOKLINE, N.H. (AP) — Anyone walking into the Women in Military Service of America Monument at the entrance to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia might notice something is missing.

One of the stone monuments at the entrance has a seven-ton granite urn on top of it; the other does not.

It turns out the missing urn has been sitting in an art studio in Brookline for the past five years. Now the Brookline Women’s Club has launched a drive to get the broken urn back to the monument.

“The missing urn is … a typical lack of respect for women veterans,” said Lynne Abt, who is spearheading the effort.

Sculptor John Weidman, director of the Andres Institute of Art, has been storing the broken urn, as well as a 13-ton replacement piece of stone, on his property for five years. He said he accepted the project on a handshake from the firm that damaged the monument.

So far he has received only $4,000 for his work. He said the job would cost $110,000, and that he already has invested thousands of dollars in time and effort in the job.

“My sister is a veteran of the Army. My mother was a WAVE during the Korean War and is a charter member of WIMSA foundation,” Miss Abt said.

She and her mother visited the monument on Memorial Day. She said she confronted the WIMSA president, Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, at the Memorial Day services in Arlington. The retired general told her getting the urn repaired was her next priority.

“I’ve never heard from her since then, and I sent two follow-up e-mails with no response,” Miss Abt said. “I was kind of surprised.”

The monument was built in 1930, and is cared for by the Parks Department. The memorial was undergoing renovation in 1997 when some plumbing work upset the basework and toppled the urn to the ground.

Miss Abt said that Mr. Weidman’s deep desire as a sculptor to see the piece completed led him to start work without a proper contract.

“He totally dedicated himself to the urn for two years because of his heartfelt belief that the proper people and organizations would follow through with verbal agreements. After two years of work, he could no longer afford to foot the bill for this endeavor,” she said.

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