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D.C. may soon be home to military divers tribute statue

Elizabeth Jones

Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 4:03:30 PM
D.C. may soon be home to military divers tribute statueHomeland Security Policy Institute Inc. (HSPIG) came before Congress recently to seek support to erect an 11-foot bronze sculpture of a diver in front of the Washington Navy Yard to honor military divers, according to the Los Angeles Times. The organization has been planning the sculpture since 2004 and is hoping to make a final fundraising push and get approval from Congress to make it reality.

The sculpture project has its roots in the creation of a military divers forum. The organization sought to give these veterans a place to connect and share their diving experiences, according to HSPIG. Soon after, the idea to create a statue honoring these service members germinated.

In January 2004, Jeff West, one of the divers who joined the divers forum, took the idea and ran with it. West and the creators of HSPIG started gathering supporters and funds. Endorsement letters and support came rolling in from people in the military, individuals, diving groups and corporations.

The statue is intended to honor all military divers, not just those from the Navy. In choosing a location for the monument, the steering committee took into consideration a historically significant military diving locations and events. They eventually settled on erecting the statue on the waterfront at the Washington Navy Yard (WNY), formerly the home of the Navy Diving School, according to the news outlet.

HSPIG was granted U.S. Navy approval for the "Man in the Sea Memorial Monument" concept and location on September 19, 2010. The sculpture will be accessible to the general public as well as personnel stationed at the WNY base.

In June of 2011, the Navy gave HSPIG clearance to begin fundraising. To that end, miniature versions of the sculpture are available for purchase, as well as bricks that will surround the statue. Plaques are also available to place on ships and buildings. The HSPIG needs $10 million dollars to complete the project.

Senator Jim Webb, a former Navy secretary, is in favor of congressional endorsement to further aid fundraising efforts. The senator noted that divers often go unseen and unrecognized, according to the news outlet.

"This is a piece of the nation’s history that is missing," William Nucklos, HSPIG's Washington-based director for policy, told the news outlet.

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