Each year, November 11 is designated by the U.S. government to remember, salute and honor the military personnel who have served the country.
This year on Veterans Day, a special monument is in place to commemorate 4-pawed heroes and their handlers: the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
At last, formal recognition is being given to our once-forgotten warriors who gave their all.
The national monument was dedicated and opened to the public last week. It is set on a 5,000-square-foot plaza designation. The bronze statue features four 5-foot-tall dogs and a 9-foot-tall handler. The base inscription reads: “Guardians of America’s Freedom.”
Meanwhile, the Not Forgotten Fountain, shown above, is a 1.25-times-life replica of a soldier pouring water from a canteen into a helmet for his military dog. Both statues are the inspired work of sculptor Paula Slater. The sculpture was financed through private donations.
The 4 dogs represent the 4 major breeds that have been used since World War II:
According to John Burnam, who handled dogs during the Vietnam War, the idea for the memorial arose after military officials decided not to allow the dogs working in Vietnam to return home with their handlers. Many canine heroes were simply left behind to die.
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Dogs have served on many battlefields in recent decades, including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. They worked in numerous capacities such as scouting, tracking, and detecting roadside explosives and improvised explosive devices.
A visit to the U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National Monument is #42 on Pets Adviser’s list of 99 Amazing Activities to Do During Your Dog’s Lifetime.
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Gayle Hickman contributed to this article. The photo is courtesy of Paula Slater of Paula Slater Sculpture and is used here with permission.