COLUMBUS — Gov. Dave Heineman will deliver the keynote speech during an Aug. 18 dedication ceremony for the newest addition to the Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial in West Pawnee Park.
Brig. Gen. Judd Lyons, who is adjutant general for the Nebraska National Guard, will also speak at the 2 p.m. event, according to Whitey Walgren, a member of the Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial Committee.
During the ceremony, two bronze statues honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces Reserve, National Guard and other Americans who served in the fight against terrorism will be unveiled. The life-size figures, depicting a male and female soldier, will stand atop a 3-foot-tall, 8 1/2-feet-wide pedestal located on the north edge of the memorial near the “Freedom Eagle.”
A crew from Platte Valley Precast began pouring the octagonal concrete base Tuesday and will eventually surround it with a 5-feet-wide sidewalk.
The statues, which were bronzed in Oregon, will be placed on the pedestal a day or two before the dedication ceremony, but remain covered, Walgren said.
The Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial Committee, a private group that oversees the exhibit, plans to have the statues unveiled by members of the National Guard and Reserve.
That ceremony will also be attended by representatives from the offices of U.S. Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith.
Walgren said it’s still unclear whether Ed Higgins, a New Orleans resident who is a relative of Andrew Jackson Higgins, can make it to the unveiling.
So far, Walgren said, the committee has sold 75-80 commemorative bricks to partly finance the newest addition. They will be added to the nearly 5,000 currently on display at the memorial prior to the Aug. 18 ceremony.
“We are coming along pretty good,” said Walgren.
However, the committee still needs to raise about $30,000 of the project’s more than $90,000 price tag, according to Walgren.
The statues, designed by Columbus sculptor Fred Hoppe, were also financed using donations from local businesses and other contributors to be recognized on 24 bronze plaques attached to the pedestal.
A separate standalone plaque will describe the display.
Walgren remains confident the remaining dollars needed for the project can be raised.
“We’ve done pretty well,” he said. “We’ll get it.”
Opened in 2001, the Andrew Jackson Higgins Memorial currently includes statues of Columbus native Andrew Jackson Higgins and U.S. soldiers storming a beach from one of his Higgins boats, which played a crucial role during World War II and Korea and Vietnam.
The memorial, which has been completely funded through donations and other private contributions, was started by Lt. Col. Jerry Meyer, a former Columbus High School teacher who pursued the idea as a student project.