RATON, N.M. – AUG. 16, 2008 – Raton may be one of America’s smaller towns, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a community with more patriotic spirit. Residents of all ages on Aug. 16 showed their patriotism and respect for local veterans by turning out at Ripley Park for the dedication of a World War II Memorial sculpture called “Pride and Anguish.”
Dignitaries from around the state of New Mexico were also on hand for the unveiling of the seven-and-a-half-foot bronze statue, which was created by Colorado sculptor Ann LaRose.
“Pride and Anguish” commemorates the sacrifices small towns across the U.S. made during the second world war. In all, 16 million Americans fought in the war effort. Of these, 671,000 were wounded and 405,000 were killed. Twenty-seven hundred residents of Colfax County, of which Raton is a part, served in the armed forces between Dec. 7, 1941 and Aug. 14, 1945. One hundred four of these lost their lives.
One of the most heart-wrenching experiences during the war happened at home: the parting of family members when one of them left for military service. “Pride and Anguish” perfectly depicts a father saying goodbye to his wife and son as the boy holds a small flag behind his back while the wife gently touches her husband’s cheek, perhaps for the last time.
This is just one of many outstanding pieces by sculptor Ann LaRose of Loveland, Colo. Her works have been shown at the Pen and Brush Sculpture Exhibition in New York, the Idaho Governor’s Exhibition, the National Arabian Horse Show, the National Wildlife Exhibition in Oregon, and many other events across the country.
Speakers at the memorial dedication in Ripley Park included Maj. Gen. Kenny Montoya, adjunct general and commander of the New Mexico National Guard; John Garcia, cabinet secretary for Veterans Affairs in New Mexico; and Sarah Flores, a representative from the office of U.S. Congressman Tom Udall.
The idea for the memorial was conceived by members of the Raton High School “war-year classes,” 1940-1944, during a class reunion in 1999. Thirty-nine individuals, most of whom are “war-year” graduates, worked hard to make this dream a reality for WWII veterans and their families as well as generations of proud Americans after them.