We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Against the Winters monument in Ephrata
10 July 2013, 18:38
Filed under: 101st, 506th, Band of Brothers, Veterans | Tags: , , ,

Normally, I am in favor of memorializing our veterans at every possibility, but, recently, a new memorial to Major Dick Winters has been proposed in his hometown, Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Actually, we need to clarify, it is a DUPLICATE monument, not a NEW monument.

Much of the information here comes from Joe Muccia, who is one of the most knowledgeable historians of Easy Company.

I did not personally know Major Winters, but I know several people, like Joe, who did. He was quite a humble gentleman. He didn’t want a memorial created to him in the first place, but as Rosemary Clemons relates, he was convinced to allow the original memorial in Normandy:

Herm and I actually delivered this proposal to Dick Winters house since an email from Ethel said the family was against it but she thought it was too important a decision and should be made by Dick Winters. He said he would agree but this would be the only statue and it would be in Normandy to represent all those in a leadership role in World War 2. This was toward the end of his life and we believe his wishes should be honored. We don’t understand how those who say they wish to honor him could actually go against his wishes.

The Winters Leadership Memorial in Normandy was designed specifically for placement there, with the agreement that the monument would be the only one to Major Winters and would not be duplicated anywhere.

There’s a football coach involved who the scupltor, Stephen Sears, was able to get on his side to raise funds for the monument. Over at Lancaster Online, you can read about it, but the gist of the story is that the coach had read about a father and son who traveled to Normandy to see the actual Winters Leadership Memorial, then came to Ephrata to visit Winter’s grave.

“I thought if they came all that way just to see this small, humble gravestone, what will happen once we have that statue here, and they don’t have to go all the way to Normandy to see it,” he said.

Joe put the argument succinctly when he wrote:

He just doesn’t get it. The Major wanted a statue to honor ALL small unit leaders…not just about him. He wanted it in Normandy because that’s where these men fought and where many of them died. It’s sad that so many profess to honor and adhere to the Major’s leadership tenants but can’t follow one of his last requests. It’s also amazing how money motivates some people to forget their values.

This is really about the sculptor, Stephen Sears, who wants to make $90,000 by selling Ephrata, … or Derry … Hershey, a duplicate monument.

So, in summary, Winters never wanted a monument to himself. His family never wanted a memorial to him. They relented and allowed ONE monument, in NORMANDY, as long as it was dedicated to ALL JUNIOR LEADERS. Now, the sculptor is trying to make a buck, exploiting well-meaning people who see the tourism dollars as they contemplate the leadership example of Winters.

Because the Major was against such a memorial, I and many others are against it. Of course, if they want to name a trail after him, or want to build a separate, unique memorial to him (against his wishes and those of his family), I’d have far less ground to stand on. I’m curious what then-13-year-old Jordan Brown, who helped raise the $98,000 for the original memorial, feels about it.

Update: Winters’ daughter, Jill Peckelun, has come out in opposition to it as well. How did she find out that the memorial was being planned? She read about it in the paper like everyone else. The more I learn about this whole thing, the less I like. One would think that any sensible person would at least contact the family to help with fundraising, if not to ask permission.

6 Comments so far
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I found the emails between Ethel Winters and Herm and I when we delivered the proposal to her door. She thanked me for the strawberry jam I made and always took to the Major. She said how the family was against this whole project because they felt it would cause more stress on the Major who was already suffering from Parkinson’s and Ethel also had failing health. She talked about this being Dick’s decision to make and also told us what her restrictions would be.
It is so hard for us,who loved Major Winters like a father, to think people would hide behind saying they were honoring the man,knowing what his wishes were,yet going ahead with the project anyway. Sad for us that his old home,his gravesite and the bike trail is not enough.

Comment by SGM Herman Clemens and Rosemary Clemens

can someone document that Joe actually knew Winters? There are a lot of people who say they did. Would he swear in a deposition that he did under penalty of perjury?

Comment by John Nixon

I don’t know who you are but Joe Mucia does not need anyone to verify who he is. He is well know by all who ever participated in anything to do with Dick Winters outfit. He has attended reunions,overseas trips and is a man of honor. He knows what he is talking about. I actually don’t know what ax you have to grind but don”t question Joe’s integrity . Rosemary Clemens( one who knew Dick Winters,cooked him pork and sauerkraut , spent much time in his home and loved him very much.

Comment by Rosemary Clemens

John, there are plenty of fakers, especially in regard to Easy, but Joe actually did know Winters.

Comment by David Navarre

Document it please. Can someone contact his family and have the family verify. Too many of these guys are out there with their own agenda and so it shouldn’t be too hard for the ones who knew these guys to get validated or verified. Can his kids validate? Also seems like they can validate other people like Larry Alexander. Then again, what’s your relationship with the guy? Seems like we’re full of people claiming to know these guys

Comment by John Nixon

I’m not a validation service. I met Joe at a seminar and keep in touch with him. I trust him completely and know others who do as well.

Some of the folks who the Major did know took advantage of it at the time and continue to attempt to do so. There are some books I’ve refused to buy because of that.

If someone’s trying to take your money by claiming to have known some specific veteran, even if they wave around a piece of paper that “validates” them, you should be extremely cautious. If someone offers to charge folks in order to be a validating service, be extremely cautious.

To be honest, it doesn’t matter to me whether someone knew a particular veteran. I’m only interested in the knowledge they can share and I know enough to be able to separate the fools from the pros.

Joe’s a pro who does also happen to have personally known a number of veterans of Easy.

Comment by David Navarre

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