The United States has the best trained and equipped combat troops in the world, but they do much more than fight. American servicemembers rescue people, feed the hungry and treat the sick and wounded amid epidemics and natural disasters here and abroad.
Consider the Berlin airlift after World War II ended. Or more recently when U.S. airmen, soldiers and Marines rushed to reopen a wrecked Japanese airport to relief supplies in the wake of a deadly earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Or this year when American troops scrambled to deliver food and stop the spread of cholera in Mozambique after Cyclone Idai tore through the East African nation.
Forsyth County is highlighting the U.S. military’s humanitarian efforts with a new bronze memorial. It will be unveiled at the county courthouse in Cumming during a public ceremony Saturday, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
Called “A Legacy of Humanity,” the monument depicts a young American soldier feeding a peasant girl amid the wreckage of WWII in Europe. She stands atop a destroyed cart as a young boy — he is using a cane and has one of his arms in a sling — approaches with a cup in his hand.
“The military does so much more than people realize,” said Forsyth County Commission Vice Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills, one of the driving forces behind the monument. “There is a humanitarian side that we sometimes forget about.”
Funded by the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners and the Forsyth County Development Authority, the $146,000 monument was sculpted by prolific Cumming-based artist Gregory Johnson. For his research, Johnson gazed at numerous WWII photos of U.S. troops. America lost more than 400,000 servicemembers during the war, including 2,335 in the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A plaque dedicates the monument to all U.S. troops for their “compassion, dedication and selflessness.”
Johnson described the scene he created with his sculptures of the two children approaching the soldier: “You can imagine that you are separated from your parents and you are a little kid. All of a sudden, it gets quiet. You stick your head up and here are these strange soldiers in your presence. But you heard about them. You had heard they had done good things. So you come out.”
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