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MEEKER I The ground was broken two weeks ago on the lawn and sidewalk at the Rio Blanco County Courthouse, but the stone and concrete construction of the actual Rio Blanco County Veterans Memorial will begin this week in downtown Meeker.
The memorial honors the first soldiers who garrisoned Rio Blanco County and continues to honor all men and women in the Armed Forces up through the current conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan — of all ranks and service.
The sculpture is a joint venture between VFW Post No. 5843 in Meeker and VFW Post No. 5261 in Rangely, and it will be dedicated after the parade on July 4.
Joe Dungan, the veteran services officer for Rio Blanco County as well as for VFW Post No. 5843, said, “This is a memorial to all the men and women of Rio Blanco County who have ever fought for our county.
He said the county commissioners approved the memorial and then the VFWs set about raising their goal of $93,500 in cash.
“Along with the cash goal, we had many people and companies help out with in-kind donations,” Dungan said. “All together, the project has raised about $120,000.”
Dubbed “Sacrifice and Resolution,” the sculpture will be a bronze of a 1-1/4 life-sized modern day infantry soldier, sculpted by Meeker resident John Kobald.
Kobald grew up in Illinois and started creating art under the guidance of his father Ray, who is also a widely respected artist.
John has said he is honored to create this sculpture since he is part of a military family — his father was in the U.S. Air Force, his brother a Navy pilot and John was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. John’s paintings and sculptures are in private, corporate and public collections around the world.
The location in front of the courthouse is a reminder of our freedoms and of those who served to protect them. The soldier will face west, “vigilantly climbing upward with the evening sun to highlight his features,” a fundraising brochure states.
The base will be constructed of the same stone that is on the courthouse and will hold plaques for military branches.
The brochure also states, this is “a memorial to the first pioneers, many of whom fought in the Civil War and who established the nation’s first service organization, the Grand Army of the Republic. The memorial honors those who served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Those two wars alone were a watershed moment for America, a time when an isolationist nation involved itself in world affairs and began the rise to the economic and military power that America is today.
“From Europe to the far Pacific, our solders defended freedom in World War II. Our men held back the threat of communism subsuming Asia during the Korean War. In Vietnam we protected the defenseless. More recently, our military has defined and taken down numerous threats to American interests world wide, emanating from the Middle East.”