Designer of national WWI memorial visits Joplin for Scouting event
By Jordan Larimore
via the Joplin Globe web site
The Boy Scouts of America and the country's efforts in World War I are closely intertwined.
Even 100 years ago, Scouts planted gardens to feed soldiers, collected fruit pits and shells to be used in gas masks, gathered wood for weapons and more.
Perhaps it makes sense then that a 27-year-old Eagle Scout will be in charge of memorializing America's World War I service members a century later.
Joe Weishaar, a Fayetteville, Arkansas, native and Chicago-based architect, was selected in 2016 to lead the design of the World War One Centennial Commission's memorial in Pershing Park in Washington, D.C.
Weishaar visited Joplin on Thursday to present his plans at the annual Friends of Scouting Breakfast, a fundraiser for area Scouting organizations. The event was put on at Missouri Southern State University.
"For me, especially in Scouting, there's always been that component of service," Weishaar said after his presentation. "And it's really kind of written into Boy Scouts and citizenship in the community and nation and the world. ... And so there's always been some kind of theme occurring in my life of 'If you do something, how's it going to impact your community and your nation?' And with this project, I'm able to connect all those dots again."
The design and planning work has been underway for nearly two years, and an official groundbreaking for the construction of the memorial is scheduled for November, Weishaar said. Once work begins, it is expected to take six years to complete what he said will be the largest free-standing bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere.
Artistic representations of the eventual memorial Weishaar presented depict the journey of a World War I soldier, beginning with leaving family and friends, and continuing with training, combat and even suffering a battle injury.
Weishaar said the work has involved combing through thousands of photographs and other research, then attempting to re-create the images with actors or artists. Photographs are taken of those re-creations, Weishaar said, and 3-D printing provides a basis for the eventual sculpting.
"There's some rough days," he said. "You click through 1,000 pictures of guys dead, hung up on barbed wire. And that's not the easiest thing to take from."
Read the whole article on the Joplin Globe web site here.
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