DENVER — In a place where monuments tower or have been toppled, Colorado wants to build another to honor a soldier whose name and story many have yet to learn.
“I just can’t imagine anybody not wanting to see a monument to a fellow like this," said George Lundeen.
Lundeen, an artist from Loveland, sat on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol Tuesday beside a small clay model he created of Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose.
“The more you read about him, the more respect you have for him," Lundeen said.
Rose grew up in Denver, joined the Army as a teenager and became the highest-ranking Jewish-American soldier to serve in World War II.
“[Rose] is the most-decorated battle tank commander in United States military history," said Marshall Fogel, author of a biography on Rose.
Rose is credited as the first general in WWII to fire artillery shells into Germany and the first to capture a German town, among many other military accomplishments.
"He was Colorado’s proudest war hero," said Democratic House Speaker Alec Garnett.
In late May, Colorado lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution allowing for a new statue of Gen. Maurice Rose to be installed in Lincoln Veterans' Memorial Park.
“We will accurately be depicting a life story of which Jews and non-Jews across the fractured, modern, political spectrum can be proud," said Paul Shamon.
Shamon and Fogel are leading the project to get the statue built. On Tuesday morning, they joined Gov. Jared Polis and state lawmakers in a dedication ceremony on the front steps of the capitol.
“We know that our country has a complicated past regarding the statues we build and what they represent," said Polis. "This is great honor to celebrate someone who earned their reputation in service to our country.”
George Lundeen was commissioned to create the 10-foot statue of Rose that could be installed on capitol grounds next year. The monument will take six months to build, and Lundeen will work off the design he created for the small model.
“When you do a sculpture of a guy like this, you have to read as much about him as you can," Lundeen said. "You have to find out how they walked, how they talked, how they held themselves.”
The statue will depict Rose directing tanks through a muddied battlefield.
“He’s telling them, ‘C’mon this way. This way,’” Lundeen explained.
Rose died in the line of duty. He was killed on March 30, 1945, when German tanks cornered him and two aids near Paderborn, Germany.
In 1949, Rose Medical Center in Denver was named after the two-star general. General Dwight D. Eisenhower even came to Denver to lay the cornerstone.
On Tuesday, the hospital announced a $10,000 gift to help build the new statue which is being funded through private donations.
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