The Bugler

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The Man Behind the Monuments

I often think that people living in the 20th century had extremely interesting lives. Education was treasured and being a student and gaining numerous degrees that weren't necessarily connected to your next job was applauded as opposed to being considered wasteful. One man who embodied this principle was Felix W. de Weldon. Weldon was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary in 1907 and by the age of 22 had received his MA/MS and PhD from the famous Vienna Academy of Arts and School of Architecture. He was a sculptor and after working for many years in cities in Europe, was hired to design a bust of the Prime Minister of Canada. He decided to settle in the United States and during World War II enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served as an artist.

Most of you know his work. He was the sculptor of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, which was dedicated by President Eisenhower on November 10, 1954 on the 179th anniversary of the Marine Corps "In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775." The monument honors the more than 6,000 Americans killed and 25,000 wounded in the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. At the time of de Weldon's death in 2003, more than 100 million people had visited the memorial.

The memorial weighs more than 100 tons and is one of the largest bronze-cast statues in the world. The M-1 rifle carried by one of the figures is 16 feet long. Read more about the Memorial at NPS.gov.

According to an article published in The New York Times on June 15, 2003, Mr. de Weldon was born in Vienna, the son of a textile manufacturer. As a boy, he was inspired when he saw a nude woman posing for a sculptor; the sculptor let him make his own likeness of the woman. His parents heartily disapproved, so he switched to sculptures of lions.

He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and was a combat artist stationed at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland. On Feb. 23, 1945, he was captivated by a photograph transmitted by the Associated Press wire. It was Joe Rosenthal's picture of marines raising a flag at Iwo Jima, an image that soon became famous.

Soon after seeing the photograph, Mr. de Weldon began working on it on his own in a nonstop spurt of three days, improvising his material by mixing soft floor wax with hard sealing wax. When his finished work was wheeled into the office of the Marine Corps commandant, the man was so impressed that he transferred Mr. de Weldon into the Marine Corps.

Mr. de Weldon worked in a coat and tie. Though he hired mechanics and mold-makers to fabricate large works, he had an emphatic answer when asked how many sculptors he employed: "My 10 fingers."

Waving Girl Statue

Mr. de Weldon has three or more statues in 44 different states in the United States. He has a statue of Commander Byrd at the North Pole, busts of JFK at his library in Massachusetts and a full body sculpture of House Speaker Sam Rayburn in the Rayburn Senate Building in Washington, D.C. He also did works that are treasured by communities around the United States. One such statue is the one of the Waving Flag Girl in Savannah, Georgia. The daughter of a sergeant stationed at Fort Pulaski, Florence later moved to a cottage near the entrance of the harbor with her brother George, the Cockspur Island Lighthouse keeper. As the story goes, life at the remote cottage was lonely for Florence whose closest companion was her devoted collie. At an early age, she developed a close affinity with the passing ships and welcomed each one with a wave of her handkerchief. Sailors began returning her greeting by waving back or with a blast of the ship's horn. Eventually Florence started greeting the ships arriving in the dark by waving a lantern. Florence Martus continued her waving tradition for 44 years and it is estimated that she welcomed more than 50,000 ships during her lifetime.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Glendale wants to thank everyone who participated in our Think Pink campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness. Several schools held fundraisers for Breast Cancer research and awarded their cadets a pink cord for their participation. Other schools and first responders wore the pink to show their support. Glendale made a donation of $650 representing 10% of the proceeds of the cords to the Susan G Komen Foundation.

We know that many schools were disappointed when we ran out of stock. The demand was tremendous and we are keeping a list of interested schools for next year. We will contact you in the spring before school breaks for the summer to see if you want to order for delivery in September. Give us a call or email customerservice@glendale.com if you want to add your school to our list!

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