GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. — A 7-foot sculpture of a local war hero was unveiled Saturday at the expanded DeGlopper Memorial in Grand Island.
Grand Island native U.S. Army PFC, Charles DeGlopper died in combat in Normandy back in 1944. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing himself to save his unit during the D-Day invasion.
The newly expanded DeGlopper Memorial honors all Grand Island residents who have served, or will serve, in the U.S. military. The site also features a memorial for all branches of America’s Armed Forces.
“We are thrilled to unveil this statue of Charles DeGlopper in acknowledgement of his bravery in battle, earning him the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Honor, the highest honor given by the U.S. military,” said Erik Anderson, chair of the DeGlopper Memorial Expansion Committee.
“We are also dedicating the memorial site to Grand Island residents who have proudly served as members of the United States military through a memorial to all branches of our Armed Forces, those who served in the Civil War and all service women and men who were killed in action and are missing in action. Anyone visiting this memorial will find it a learning experience for all ages, as well as a place for people from Grand Island and surrounding communities to honor and respect local individuals who have given their lives in service to our nation. This is a very special day for Grand Island, and for our region.”
Retired U.S. Army Major General David J. Conboy, a Grand Island native, served as the emcee for the dedication ceremony. Conboy says that the memorial is a place for families to not only honor but reflect on the contributions that their loved ones made by serving in the U.S. military.
“This memorial is an enduring reminder to Grand Island residents, and others visiting the site, that freedom is not free," Conboy said. "We owe a continuing debt of gratitude to Private First Class DeGlopper and all the heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. This memorial is a place for families to honor and reflect on the contributions of their loved ones; those who have truly personified the timeless American ideals of courage, sacrifice, patriotism, citizenship, integrity, and commitment.”
Lewiston sculptor Susan Geissler created the life size bronze sculpture of DeGlopper. Geissler says the DeGlopper family helped her capture DeGlopper's likeness as well as his heart.
“The DeGlopper Family has been extremely helpful throughout this creative process,” Geissler said. “They not only supplied extensive family photography of a young 'Charlie,’ but also provided on-site suggestions during numerous studio visits while the sculpting was taking place. Their guidance, patience and advice supported me immeasurably in my efforts to honestly capture not only Charlie's face, but also his tender and loving heart, and to them I am forever grateful.”