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Sabin Howard on the National WWI Monument

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
March 6, 2024 3:04 am

Sabin Howard on the National WWI Monument

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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March 6, 2024 3:04 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, World War I was not about hellish artillery blasts and machine-gun barrages - or even deception and disease. The war was about people. Hear stories of a lost generation from the sculptor whose memorial to them will soon show this reality to visitors in Washington, D.C.

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That's And we return to our American stories. Up next, a story from someone you might not know, but whose work you'll certainly see in our nation's capital soon, sculptor Sabin Howard. Sabin has created our capital's first monument to World War I. It's absolutely beautiful and tells a remarkable story.

Here's Sabin himself to tell us about his muses and how he approached the creation of the monument. Take it away, Sabin. I knew virtually nothing about World War I. It is not something taught in our school system because it's usurped by the Great Depression and then World War II. And I mean, honestly, we lost 116,000 men.

And you compare that to Europe, where you lose full villages, it's complete decimation. It was a punch on the nose for this country. But after getting into the project in the first nine months, I was fascinated. And here's the thing. I learned early on that the way to portray these people that had been in this war was not to read history books, because the history books spoke more about what the governments did and how they proceeded forward against each other. So what I did read a little bit to understand more, but that led me to looking at a lot of at a lot of images of men getting on trains with their fianc├ęs and their families, waving goodbye to them and then seeing men on the front and seeing how young they were. And I came to this realization that had hundreds of people coming at me telling me, OK, you need to portray horses. You need to portray barbed wire. How about you put some biplanes in?

What about machine guns and tanks? And then we need to do some no man's land and trenches and mud and sandbags. And I go to the bathroom one day and there on the wall is the poster of The Last Judgment by Michelangelo. And I have this voice in my head that day that says, do what you know. And that moment led me to the clarity. Yes, you know people and you know how to pose people.

Go get the uniforms and find actors and kids and pose them and get some movement into this thing so everybody gets it when they go look at it. That this was a war fought by human beings. And that's what I had to portray. But you say, OK, there were no World War One people alive to speak to to see what it was like. But there are a lot of guys out there who have been to war and they're around right now.

And it's same different floor. War is war. You go as you look at, I know, movies like Braveheart. You see butchery and technology has increased the butchery to, you know, massive amounts of people.

And World War One, the one thing I did see very clearly was you move from a gentleman's war where there's these these groups of men marching in unison together towards the other side. And then all of a sudden you're going to interject, OK, we got it now, a machine gun, a 50 cal machine gun similar to a 50 cal firing bullets. And it's just like, let's mow it down in no man's land. And so it's massive, massive destruction. You get huge amounts of deaths in six hours. And like the soul, it's like 75,000 men dying in a day.

And I'm not being facetious and I have complete respect for the families and people that lost their lives on 9-11. But you cannot comprehend how much massacre has occurred in like a war like World War One. And when you do comprehend it, when you do see when you start to speak to veterans, when say, you know, and how horrible experiences can be of someone right next to them losing their limbs or losing an arm and an eyeball and blood gushing out, all of a sudden it's like it's not a movie. It's actual freaking reality. And then you go home and you got to like live with this when you're back home as a civilian.

It's like, that's okay. This is like horror story beyond anything that you could comprehend. It's like, I learned when you think you're at the bottom of the basement, there are five more levels that you can fall through. It began in a studio in the South Bronx and I began using real soldiers that had seen combat because I needed to become just aware and be able to depict things that would actually tell how horrible it is when someone is sent into a hell and expected to perform. And one of the people that I hired and work with on this project was Ricky Zambrano. Ricky Zambrano was a Marine. He went to Afghanistan and he came back completely jacked up, shell-shocked.

That was called PTSD today. And he went to the VA and they gave him 15 different pills and he felt like a zombie. So he stopped taking the pills. And then shortly thereafter, one night he decided he couldn't, he couldn't just go on. And he, he didn't, he didn't go on and he decided to take a lot of these pills and he's lying in his bed. And then this voice inside of him comes up and goes, you get up and it lifted him up. And he walked to the bathroom and forced himself to throw up. And from that moment on, he realized that nobody was coming to save him. He had to save himself.

And he learned how to deal without the pills by exercising every day, two to three hours, very intensely. And he worked for me for almost two years. And he was the figure for this, the shell-shocked soldier, as well as many of the other figures.

He was full-time for me. And he was the body that we used for the man carrying the flag as well. And the, the soldier who is shell-shocked, I used a ranger who, you know, I heard stories from him of like, he, he, I saw a scar on his shoulder. I'm like, Hey, Chris, how'd you get that scar on your shoulder? And he's like, we entered into a room and this Iraqi stabbed me in the shoulder and I pulled the knife out and I put it right into his throat and he didn't walk out of that room. And Chris is the nicest man that I've ever met.

He, he has a huge heart. And I think that there is a misunderstanding in our society of what it takes to become part of the military, how functional in some ways these soldiers are. They are trained to enter into war.

They are not trained to reenter back into society. And so I have a friend, James, who does very well as a building contractor and he's from the UK and he asked me to be one of the models. And I was very surprised. And I said, well, James, I'd love to have you work with me.

I don't understand why, but you want to be a model. That's good. He's came and posed a few times. And then I said, I asked, Hey, James, can you explain why, you know, what, what do you, why is this so important to you? Cause he was doing really well. He was bringing a lot of juice to the, the, the photo shoots that we were doing.

And I, I was like a little puzzled and he goes, well, okay, I'll tell you after we finish work today. And so he comes over and he goes, all right, so here's the story. My great uncle and my great grandfather were both in world war one. My great grandfather did not return. My great uncle did return. And when he came home, he proceeded to shoot his wife with his service revolver, shot his daughter, and then he shot himself. And I grew up in that home.

And so it obviously had a huge impact on him and the ghosts that lived in his past. And that experience taught me what this war and all wars are about. I really gave it my all to show them in everything that they have gone through and all their humanity in a way that is heroic, that speaks well of them, because this is what they deserve. And the reason I'm harping on this, because I don't think there is anything more noble than to give one's all physically and mentally to the world that they deserve. Give one's all physically and mentally to one's country and then come back and not be thanked. So the biggest element that this sculpture does is show the transformation of war historically in World War One.

And it is identifiable for any conflict that has happened since then. And a terrific job on the production and editing by our own Monty Montgomery. And you've been listening to Sabin Howard, who created the National World War One Memorial. It'll be unveiled in Pershing Park in Washington, DC this September.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-06 04:46:29 / 2024-03-06 04:51:41 / 5

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