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D-Day Memorial to remove busts of Stalin, other Allied figures
Sep 28, 2010
By Justin Faulconer, The News & Advance
The National D-Day Memorial announced today that it will take down for now a controversial bust of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, along with busts of other Allied world leaders on display at the Bedford site.

The Stalin bust — along with a bust of Chiang Kai-shek, who led China’s military during World War II — were to be removed after the memorial closed at 5 p.m. today, officials said.

Busts of Franklin D. Roosevelt and British leader Winston Churchill will be removed by the end of the year, said National D-Day Memorial Foundation President Robin Reed.

The statues’ departure will last until an unspecified time when they can be placed in a “more appropriate venue for Allied leader interpretation at the memorial,” Reed and the memorial’s board of directors announced. That venue would be somewhere on the grounds of the 88-acre memorial site, Reed said.

The installation of the Stalin bust in June, a few days before the memorial’s ceremony of the 66th anniversary of D-Day, drew a firestorm of protest.

Veterans lamented its inclusion at the site that they said was dedicated solely to recognizing the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the men who fell on the beaches of Normandy. Bedford County Supervisor Annie Pollard called Stalin’s presence there a “slap in the face” of soldiers and said it didn’t fit in.

The statue for 17 weeks stood alone and apart from other busts near a parking area at the memorial familiar to many area residents since its opening in 2001.

About two dozen protested the statue outside the memorial a few weeks following its installation, many of which are veterans and volunteers with close ties to the site. Some vowed to withdraw their financial support of the memorial until the sculpture was taken down.

The Bedford County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in June asking the private nonprofit foundation that operates the site to consider removing it.

The protesting extended beyond Bedford’s borders: the American Legion earlier this month passed a resolution opposing it during its national convention in Milwaukee.

Several organizations, including the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. and the Central & East European Coalition, have also spoken out against the bust.

Memorial foundation leaders and Richard Pumphrey, the artist who sculpted it, have said the piece was not meant to honor Stalin but rather to mark his role in how D-day unfolded, a perspective that has raised historical debate.

The foundation board is “firm in its resolve to depict history accurately and truthfully,” said a news release issued Tuesday.

“It also realizes there are ways to accomplish the foundation’s educational goals without risking the perception that certain elements detract from the valor, fidelity and sacrifice of the veterans recognized by the memorial,” the release states.
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