In the works: National monument to honor U.S. service animals

The National Service Animals Monument would honor all service members-and their handlers-throughout American history.
Published: Dec. 24, 2021 at 7:57 AM CST
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - The dolphins who patrol naval waters; the carrier pigeons who transported messages during WWII; the military pack mules, horses, and service K9s; this one is for you.

“These animals have served us over centuries,” said National Service Animals Monument Corporation President Theresa Brandon.

Service animals continue to help those with disabilities, while dangerously serving alongside handlers in the military and local law enforcement.

Marine veteran Theresa Brandon says she’s working to install a memorial on the National Mall, with life-size bronze sculptures, to honor all service members- and their human handlers-throughout American history.

“It is very important that we share with the United States what national treasures these service animals are,” she said.

The project is still in the planning phases, but Congress introduced a bill supporting the effort last year and organizers are hopeful there will be further movement soon.

In the meantime, a passionate artist is hard at work.

“The concept is that all these animal teams are moving sort of down a path to a better place, over a bridge, to a place with some of the greatest quotes of mankind about the human-animal bond.” said sculptor Susan Bahary.

An earlier rendering of the proposed National Service Animals Monument by sculptor Susan Bahary.
An earlier rendering of the proposed National Service Animals Monument by sculptor Susan Bahary. (Susan Bahary)

As an artist, Bahary is familiar with the animal form. She designed the country’s first War Dog Memorial and her recent work, depicting fallen Navy sailor John Douangdara and his dog Bart, is now a permanent fixture at the U.S Navy Memorial in Washington D.C.

“It’s a lot about compassion, and I think we could use that now more than ever,” said Bahary. “I think it’s something we can all agree on about.”

Pending Congressional approval, Bahary hopes the memorial will be installed within the next few years.

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