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Ephrata leaders discuss future of Major Dick Winters statue

Written by Matt Paul, Reporter/Producer | Jul 11, 2013 9:01 PM
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Photo by witf/Matt Paul

This sign is posted near the head of the rail trail in Ephrata Borough.

(Ephrata) -- Concerns are being raised about the future of the planned Leadership Memorial, in one Lancaster County community, in the likeness of one of the most well-known World War Two veterans in the country.

The late Major Dick Winters -- the leader of the so-called Band of Brothers, made famous by Stephen Ambrose's book and the HBO mini-series -- was an Ephrata native.

A rail trail that runs through the borough was recently re-named in his honor, and a local non-profit group is working to raise more than $300,000 -- enough money to build and maintain a memorial at the trail head based on the Richard Winters Leadership Monument unveiled in Normandy, France, last year.

Rebecca Gallagher co-chairs the Leadership Memorial Committee, and says the values of honor and character that are so often associated with Winters came from Ephrata.

"I hope that however this plays out, that we as a group can know that we did a good thing for honorable reasons, and that we've left behind a legacy that will inspire... people of all walks of life that come see this monument," Gallagher explains.

Plans for the bronze statue hit a snag this week, when Winters' daughter wrote to borough council saying the family does not want any additional or replica statues.

Earlier this year, she had expressed support for the effort.

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Photo by witf/Matt Paul

Ephrata's Community Services Committee meets as members of the Leadership Memorial Committee look on.

Ephrata Mayor Ralph Mowen, who also sits on the memorial panel, says plans are underway to reach out to the family in hopes of finding common ground. He says the memorial will honor all veterans through Winters. Mowen calls Winters -- who passed away in January, 2011 -- an inspiration to millions around the world.

Councilman Bob Good is concerned about limiting the borough's liability and wants to be considerate of the family's wishes. But, he says he supports the intent behind the push for the statue.

"It's not only to pay any honors to Major Winters, but to all veterans -- deceased and living," Good explains, "and that there is so much that can be taught to future generations about a humble, honest man who had tremendous leadership capability."

While concerns are being raised in light of the letter, council members appear willing to let the memorial committee and the Winters family work out any differences that may exist.

Dick Winters jumped into Normandy on D-Day as an officer with “E” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

He later led the men of Easy Company through Operation Market Garden in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and the taking of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria and rose to the rank of major and served as acting battalion commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 101st.

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