Perpetuating the Noble Principles for which They Fought and Died
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American Gold Star Mothers, Inc

AMERICAN GOLD STAR MOTHER MEMORIAL DEDCIATION

July 2, 2006, Kent, NY

Peter Allegretta_sm.jpg (15009 bytes)In 2002, Peter Allegretta, a USMC veteran and president of the Putnam County Joint Veterans Council (NY) accepted the task of creating a monument to honor Gold Star Mothers. Allegretta's introduction to Gold Star Mothers was when his childhood friend, Howard Bruckner was killed in Vietnam. The planned monument was to be a stone with a small plaque attached. It would be like any other monument to Gold Star Mothers that dot the countryside since the first monuments of the 1930's. What happened next is an amazing story. A Vietnam veteran, Fred Waterman met Peter and became interested in the project. Waterman was in the same platoon with Howard Bruckner when Bruckner was killed in Vietnam!! Fred felt the "Mom's" deserved better than the planned single stone monument; he proposed a grand, classical bronze statue be created to properly honor Gold Star Mothers. It would be the first of its kind, and Waterman knew just the sculptor to do the job. Waterman's Army buddy, Andrew L. Chernak, who was Bruckner's replacement in Vietnam, was asked to sculpt the first Gold Star Mothers monument.

The first official meeting of the statue committee was in February 2003, in Carmel, Putnam County NY. Gold Star Mother President, Dorothy Oxendine and Pat Butcher were present. There were two designs submitted for the Gold Star Mother memorial. Chernak's proposed design was of a WWII mother for two reasons. First, it would eliminate discussion whether or not the statue would be a Vietnam, Korea, or current day mother. Secondly, WWII saw the greatest number of Gold Star Mothers. The statue would be of a mother, tears flowing, looking off to memories of her child. Grief stricken and unsteady, she braces herself with one hand on a plant stand at her side. The hand grasps the Western Union telegram read with disbelief a moment before. The table top has a photo of a serviceman and a flower pot knocked to its side, teetering at the table's edge. The second design presented by another attendee was a copy of a movie scene with a mother lying on a porch in tears. Chernak's design was chosen by Dorothy Oxendine for the dignity and strength that co-existed with the grief and sorrow.

The Putnam County Joint Veterans Council started a fund raising drive and site planning for the statue. At Veterans Park in Kent, New York, the future home of the statue, the model of the statue was debuted in July 2003. The first donation was from a WWII Veteran who opened his wallet and gave Chernak $3.00. Andrew noticed the mans wallet was now empty and the proud smile on the aged veterans face. The first Veterans groups to donate funds were VietNow and many Pennsylvania chapters of Vietnam Veterans of America. The community at large, local businesses, individuals, motorcycle clubs, veterans and non veterans alike contributed. A major boost in morale and fundraising came from State Senator Vincent Liebelle and Robert Bondi of Putnam County, NY.


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Finished Statue

Eighteen months of sculpting and foundry work later, the statue was set in place on her block of polished granite. The man operating the crane that gently lowered the statue in place was Peter Allegretta with members of the statue committee witnessing the results of their hard work and dedication. Five days later, in a moving one hour ceremony, the statue was unveiled before Gold Star Mothers from several states and many dignitaries. The customary applause did not happen at the moment of unveiling. Three minutes of silence was broken by staggered sobs and sighs. The smiles on the tear streaked faces of the Gold Star Mothers gave testimony that the project was worth the four years of effort on the part of so many.

More of Andrew Chernak's work can be seen at www.andrewchernak.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Peter Allegretta, Mrs. Bruckner, Ann Wolcott_450.jpg (80056 bytes)

Peter Allegretta and 2 Gold Star Moms await the unveiling of the Statue.

Lady & crane_450.jpg (82883 bytes)

The statue is unloaded...

Lady being lowered_450.jpg (84034 bytes)

... and placed on it pedestal.

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Last minute cleanup of the Walk of Valor.

 

GSM statue with roses at unveling, Putnam_450.jpg (54036 bytes)

The completed statue.

 

Andrew, Jack & Judith Young_450.jpg (78672 bytes)

The sculptor, Andrew Chernak (center),
with Judith Young, Pres. AGSM and her husband Jack.

 

GSM unveiling 2 Putnam NY_450.jpg (73947 bytes)

Andrew Chernak with a few of the Moms that attended the dedication ceremony.


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