Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 30, 2010

Statue attracts letters, money

Sculptor wants people to respond and interact with his work

by Glenn Wohltmann

The statue of a Gulf War era soldier downtown seems to be having an emotional effect on some local residents.

People have been placing copies of a poem, and in one case, cash, beneath the statue at the corner of Main and Abbie streets, directly across from the Veterans Memorial Building.

Renee Lavigne is a Korean War vet who was at the Gay 90s pizzeria recently when someone pointed out that a letter had been placed under the statue, held down by a rock. Inside was a $5 bill. Lavigne said he's put the $5 toward the local American Legion veteran's fund.

The statue is very touching," Lavigne said. "It means a lot of different things to different people."

The poem left below that statue is a piece written by Langston Hughes. It reads, in part:

"We would mold you in metal and carve you in stone

Not daring to make statue of your dead flesh and bone

Not daring to mention the bitter breath

Nor the ice cold passion of your love-night with Death"

Pleasanton Visual Arts Coordinator Julie Finegan said the response to the statue is exactly that hoped for by sculptor Seward Johnson.

"He wants people to interact and respond," Finegan said. "He called it 'Coming Home.' It's modeled after a real soldier and his daughter. People were pretty amazed by the detail. When I was looking at it, I could see the emotion on the soldier's face."

Lavigne said local veterans' organizations are doing their part to recognize returning soldiers.

We've been welcoming home veterans for months now," Lavigne said. He noted that Warriors' Watch Riders, a national motorcycle club with a local branch, is involved in ceremonies when soldiers return from Iraq or Afghanistan.

"We present them with a medallion," he said. More information about Warriors' Watch is available at www.warriorswatch.org.

Lavigne also pointed out that the Pleasanton American Legion has a program that sends letters and cards directly to soldiers. Packages can be sent directly to American Legion Post 237, P.O. Box 823, Pleasanton 94566.

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