Community group raises funds for Lincoln statue on VA campus

Urbana sculptor works on a clay version of the Lincoln statue envisioned for the Dayton VA Medical Center. CONTRIBUTED

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Urbana sculptor works on a clay version of the Lincoln statue envisioned for the Dayton VA Medical Center. CONTRIBUTED

Abraham Lincoln’s statue already adorns downtown’s Courthouse Square, and soon the 16th president will also gaze across the grounds of the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, which has its historic roots in his administration.

Volunteers of the American Veterans Heritage Center gathered recently at the Dayton VA Medical Center to announce their fund-raising plans to erect a prominent bronze statue of Lincoln on the historic west Dayton campus.

They aim to raise $379,000 for a new park setting and the statue, and so far have raised $149,439.

More can be learned, and donations can be made, at the group's web site:

“The statue is intended to honor Lincoln’s promise — the origin of the VA motto — ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan,’” the volunteer group said in a recent release.

On March 4, 1865, one of the last official actions taken by Lincoln was to sign legislation establishing a system of soldiers’ homes to care for the veterans of the Civil War. The Dayton Soldiers Home was one of three homes initially authorized.

The Dayton VA Medical Center will donate land and provide much of the infrastructure and foundation for the park.

“The park and statue will honor Lincoln’s legacy, serving as an educational focal point and a therapeutic, reflective and healing haven for veterans and their families who come from far and wide seeking treatment at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center,” said Glenn Costie, who served as center’s director from 2011 to 2017.

“The new memorial will revitalize the Dayton VA campus, inspiring our community to care for those who have served our country and encouraging veterans to share their stories, experiences and wisdom with current and future generations,” according to the release.

The bronze statue is designed by Urbana artist Mike Major. It will depict Lincoln sitting with a pen in hand, with the legislation he just signed. Major also designed and created the Lincoln statue placed on Dayton’s Courthouse Square in 2016.

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The American Veterans Heritage Center is a non-profit, 501c(3) corporation that honors the accomplishments of veterans.

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