Lincoln statue destined for Dayton VA awaits final fundraising push

A 1,700-pound bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln created by Urbana artist Mike Major (pictured) was delivered to Dayton in June 2020. The statue will be placed in a park at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus in the fall. LISA POWELL / STAFF
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A 1,700-pound bronze sculpture of Abraham Lincoln created by Urbana artist Mike Major (pictured) was delivered to Dayton in June 2020. The statue will be placed in a park at the Dayton VA Medical Center campus in the fall. LISA POWELL / STAFF

A 1,700-pound bronze statue of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, sits on a trailer in a Dayton warehouse, destined for the Dayton VA Medical Center campus.

But first, more work needs to be done. Leaders of the American Veterans Heritage Center are pushing to raise a final $125,000 to place the statue in its hoped-for setting, a new plaza near what was the historic site of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, the home Lincoln and Congress created for wounded Civil War veterans.

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The statue was created by Urbana sculptor Mike Major, who also crafted the statue of Lincoln that has stood tall on Courthouse Square in downtown Dayton since 2016.

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Sculptor Mike Major depicted a seated Abraham Lincoln, pen in hand, with legislation he has signed establishing the National Soldier's and Sailor's Asylum to care for Civil War veterans. Dayton was the location for one of the first three soldier's homes in the country. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Sculptor Mike Major depicted a seated Abraham Lincoln, pen in hand, with legislation he has signed establishing the National Soldier's and Sailor's Asylum to care for Civil War veterans. Dayton was the location for one of the first three soldier's homes in the country. LISA POWELL / STAFF
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Sculptor Mike Major depicted a seated Abraham Lincoln, pen in hand, with legislation he has signed establishing the National Soldier's and Sailor's Asylum to care for Civil War veterans. Dayton was the location for one of the first three soldier's homes in the country. LISA POWELL / STAFF

“This is to honor Abraham Lincoln’s promise to care for those who bore the battle during the Civil War,” said Bill DeFries, a member of an American Veterans Heritage Center committee working to create the statue’s new home. “There was no other way to take care of the veterans at that time.”

Just over a month before Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, he made a speech promising: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.”

Dayton was the location for one of the first three soldier’s homes in the country; Dayton’s home became the Dayton VA Medical Center.

“It’s just magnificent,” DeFries said of the statue.

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An artist's rendering of the planned plaza at the Dayton VA Medical Center, where a new bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln will be placed. Contributed

An artist's rendering of the planned plaza at the Dayton VA Medical Center, where a new bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln will be placed. Contributed
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An artist's rendering of the planned plaza at the Dayton VA Medical Center, where a new bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln will be placed. Contributed

Raised so far has been about $400,000. “We need about another $125,000,” said DeFries, chief executive and owner of Dayton electronics firm Copp Systems since 2012.

One big remaining step will be construction of a plaza or pavilion for the statue at Kentucky and Ohio avenues, near the VA Medical Center on Dayton’s West side. The plan is to place the bronze sculpture on a massive limestone pedestal, four feet high, with the statue itself rising another 10 or so feet beyond that.

The VA provided the professional design of the pavilion and hired the architect and engineering firms for design work, DeFries said.

Information about the American Veterans Heritage Center can be found at https://americanveteransheritage.org/

Donations via credit card and other information can be found at https://americanveteransheritage.org/how-to-help/

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