Miami-Dade County now has a permanent memorial dedicated to those who served in the Vietnam War.
The bronze image of an infantryman’s rifle and helmet was dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at Veterans Park, 10190 NW 33 St. in Doral, thanks to its donors, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Ralph West of the Redland. West, a Vietnam War veteran, served with the First Cavalry Division Airmobile in 1965.
Cub Scouts from Pack 552 led by Fernando Horruitiner paricipated in the ceremony unveiling the starkly realistic work of artist Richard Arnold of Telluride, CO, a noted sculptor whose works “convey soul in bronze.”
“My husband had always felt that there should have been a memorial in Miami dedicated to the men killed while defending their country during the Vietnam War,” Lois West said. “He contacted Richard Arnold and at that time discovered that Richard also served in Vietnam. Arnold Studio came highly recommended for their bronze work. We decided to purchase the bronze ourselves and seek an appropriate veterans park for its display.”
The sculpture representing the loss and mourning of a soldier fallen in battle goes back to the Civil War, she explained. The helmet symbolizes the great sacrifice while its inverted rifle signals a break in action that shows respect for a fallen comrade. The boots represent the soldier’s final march.
“Thanks to the City of Doral, we now have a home for what is entitled the ‘Battlefield Cross’ bronze,” she said.
Arnold’s major works include “Remembering,” the figure of a soldier clad in a baseball cap, jeans, jungle boots and a military jacket, wearing a POW-MIA bracelet and clenching the dog tag of a friend who wasn’t fortunate enough to return home.
A member of the Vietnam Vets of America, Arnold created a pensive, life-sized sculpture as a reminder of the sacrifices of those who fought in the Vietnam War.
“Working in clay and wax, then having my art cast in bronze, I attempt to capture the spirit and personality of the subject,” Arnold said. “My sculptures are sensitive, personal and from the heart.”