“My sculpture can't do anything to bring back those lives we lost, but the word 'celebration' is appropriate. I think what's important is that we celebrate their lives and pay tribute in the finest way we can.”
The strain of moving metal reverberated over Sculpture Fields at Montague Park as people gathered to watch a crane lift a 65-foot-tall sculpture from the earth.
Anchors, a concrete-and-metal piece by international artist Peter Lundberg, was pulled from the ground where the cement had been poured and it was dedicated to five servicemen killed or mortally wounded in the July 16 attack.
"This celebration of life and art is the first Sculpture Fields event to take place in the park," said John Henry, the sculpture park's founder who also is a sculptor.
He spoke to a crowd of servicemen, police and city officials, including Mayor Andy Berke, former Mayor Ron Littlefield and county Mayor Jim Coppinger.
Bill Chapin, vice chairman of the Sculpture Fields board of directors, led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the national anthem before crane operators lifted the 100-ton structure out of the ground.
The lift wasn't immediate. The arrow-shaped, concrete-covered work stubbornly held tight until Henry hopped in a backhoe and started scraping dirt from the edges.
Marine Capt. Chris Cotton spoke about the fallen servicemen as the structure was slowly raised.
"It represents Gunnery Sgt. (Thomas) Sullivan, who was one of the kindest men I ever knew," Cotton said. "He would take the shirt of his back and give it to you. He was a protector. He never took slack from anybody."
He said Staff Sgt. David Wyatt was a loving father and a great husband who cared for his family more deeply than anybody.
"Sgt. Carson Holmquist, the kid loved life," Cotton said. Holmquist had one young son. He'd grab his son's teddy bear and march around singing the "Marines' Hymn" with him.
Lance Cpl. (Skip) Wells was "just exuberant," Cotton said, and loved the Marine Corps.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, he said, was a proud papa, a loving father, affectionately known across the Naval Operational Support Center as kind of a prankster.
As the program wound down, Lundberg emerged from behind a mound of dirt to speak.
"My sculpture can't do anything to bring back those lives we lost, but the word 'celebration' is appropriate," Lundberg said. "I think what's important is that we celebrate their lives and pay tribute in the finest way we can."
After the crowd started to disperse, a loud noise sounded as the sculpture settled into place.
Lundberg said he donated his time and most of his crew for the project, which was privately funded through donations.
He said it looks like a ribbon or a hand reaching for the sky.
Anchors marks the park's 18th sculpture. Officials say it will have 75 sculptures when it is complete and that it expects to start opening to the public on Nov. 21.
After Nov. 21, it will open every weekend until spring, and then it will open seven days a week. It will always be free to the public, said Catherine Clifford, executive director of Sculpture Fields at Montague Park.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.