On Memorial Day, May 27th, citizens across the country will gather to honor the men and women who have fought for America’s freedom, from World War II to ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Susan Bahary will be paying tribute to our country’s heroes by unveiling her memorial of John Douangdara, the brave lead dog handler for the Navy SEAL Team Six and his war dog Bart, who were sadly lost in August 2011 along with 29 US soldiers, 17 of whom were Navy Seals, when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.
The John Douandara Memorial War Dog Park is part of the overall Siouxland Freedom Park project in South Sioux City honoring veterans from every era. The park, dedicated to the men and women who have served and sacrificed in the name of freedom, honors the values of those who have served so valiantly in the past, all who serve today and the young men and women who will courageously follow in their footsteps in the future.
Susan Bahary aims to raise awareness of the heroic service of military working dogs, along with their brothers and sisters in law enforcement, through her work as a sculptor. She created the first official monument to the war dog, among other stirring pieces in bronze. Her “Always Faithful” monument, honoring Kurt the Doberman, the first military working dog killed in action in the 1944 Battle of Guam, was recently placed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Beyond the stories of soldiers who owe their lives to patrol and sentry dogs, Bahary was inspired by getting to know several canine veterans, through photos, videos, and personal encounters. “I was moved by the spirit of these courageous dogs,” she reflects, “who are the embodiment of love and devotion.”
In the spirit of this observance, Susan Bahary would like to tell your audience about:
The story of John Douangdara, recipient of The Purple Heart, who was killed in battle on August 6, 2011 in the Wardak Province, Afghanistan alongside Bart, a military working dog and 29 fellow soldiers. The Memorial War Dog Park honors him and all Military Working Dog Handlers as well as their faithful companions, past, present, and future.
The dogs and their tales behind her three noted sculptures: Always Faithful, created in memory of 25 noble dogs, primarily Doberman Pinschers who died in the taking of Guam during WWII, which was unveiled at the Pentagon; Faithful Partner, a tribute to California’s “K-9” force in the form of a life-size German Shepherd; and Smoky and the Dogs of All Wars, spotlighting a tiny female Yorkshire Terrier who, after being discovered in a foxhole, went on to entertain the troops and win recognition as the premier therapy dog.
The vital work of MWDs, who are trained in controlled aggressiveness, attack, building and open area searches, and the detection of drugs and explosives, and then deployed to every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Department of Defense.
As a nation of dog lovers, Americans will want to honor the canines who fought and died for our country this Veterans Day. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Susan Bahary channeled her love for animals into a career as an internationally acclaimed artist. I look forward to discussing her availability for interviews.
Personal statement from Susan Bahary
It has been one of the greatest gifts in my life to have the honor of sculpting monuments to our K-9 and human heroes and to meet veterans and those currently serving in our military, who do so much to keep us safe and free.
Doing the work I do reminds me of what a great sacrifice the veterans have made for all of us, and how the act of even one human being or dog can so positively effect generations to come. It is through these monuments that I hope to keep the stories and history alive for future generations.
For more information about the Siouxland Freedom Park, please visit www.siouxlandfreedompark.org.
For more information about Susan Bahary, please visit www.baharystudios.com.