Group Opposing Memorial to Fallen Navy Seal War Hero

April 6, 2007

As I’m sure some of you remember, on March 14th, I posted a “Warrior Spotlight” about Navy Seal Danny Dietz, who was posthumously awarded the distinguished Navy Cross for his brave actions on June 28, 2005. Actions, which ultimately cost Danny Dietz his life, but saved the life of a fellow Navy Seal. If not, you can read that post here. Danny Dietz died fighting to preserve these people’s right to protest. I find that rather ironic, don’t you?

Danny Dietz was a native of Littleton, Colorado. The city of Littleton is currently in the process of establishing a memorial to Danny to honor his service and ultimate sacrifice for this Country, at Berry Park in Littleton.

Danny Dietz was awarded the Navy Cross for “…extraordinary heroism in actions against the enemy…” while serving in a four-man Special Reconnaissance team in Afghanistan. “Operating in the middle of an enemy-controlled area, in extremely rugged terrain …Petty Officer Dietz fought valiantly against the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force…valiantly defending his teammates and himself in a harrowing gunfight, until he was mortally wounded.”

· The City of Littleton became involved in the project at the request of United States Congressman Tom Tancredo in the summer of 2006. Congressman Tancredo asked that the city work with the Dietz family to create a permanent memorial to Danny in the community where he grew up.

· The project began with a meeting that included city staff, members of the Dietz family, and representatives from Littleton veterans organizations, including State Representative Joe Rice. Strong support was expressed for moving forward with a permanent memorial.

· The Berry Park extension site was selected because the vacant lot was recently acquired by the city and funds were budgeted in 2007 to develop it. The park is in the same neighborhood where Danny grew up and attended elementary and middle school and where his parents still reside.

· A fundraising effort in the winter of 2006 resulted in contributions in excess of $42,000 contributed by individuals, businesses, and non profit organizations. There is no city money (excluding staff time) in the project. The city is providing space for the sculpture on public land.

· There has been an extensive public process for the memorial with two cover stories in the October and December issues of the Littleton Report and a story in the February issue.

· An RFP process concluded in December, 2006 with the selection of Canon City Sculptor Robert Henderson as the winning artist. The sculpture is based on one of the last photos taken of Danny prior to his death and it means a great deal to his family.

· There have been two city council votes on the contract for the sculpture, one in January and one in February. Each vote was unanimous. A clay model of the sculpture was displayed at one of the meetings.

· There has been extensive coverage of the project in the Littleton Independent, Villager, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, the Kaplis and Silverman Show on KHOW, and on television Channels 2, 4, 7, 9 and 31.

· The artist has been paid 2/3 of the cost ($20,000). The bronze sculpture is at the foundry and is scheduled for dedication July 4, 2007. Staff is working with Navy officials to plan the dedication which will include a keynote speech by an admiral who is flying in for the ceremony and a flyover with aircraft from Buckley.

· An objection to the memorial was raised by a citizen at the March 20 city council meeting, expressing concern about the gun that Danny is wearing as part of his uniform/equipment.

· There are thousands of memorials across the country (see memo from Littleton Historical Museum Director Tim Nimz) which feature a military man or woman in uniform with his/her weapon. These memorials are visited by millions of school children and adults each year.

· The City of Littleton respects that there are other points of view regarding military memorials.

As the statement from the city of Littleton says, on March 20th, a group of people, some of them parents, have suddenly voiced opposition to the statue depicting Danny, because he’s holding his weapon. Their protest to this wasn’t even voiced until just a few days ago, and only a couple months before the sculpture is to be dedicated, and after the sculpture is virtually complete. This sculpture is based on one of the last photographs taken of Danny shortly before his death. There has been widespread news coverage of the project and several City Council meetings as well as widely publicized fund raising efforts for the memorial sculpture. The sculpture is near completion, and is at the foundry. What did they wait until now to voice their opposition, when it’s been public knowledge for many months? That alone makes me ponder what this is really all about.

The group opposing the memorial say that because Danny will be depicted holding his rifle, that it promotes and glorifies violence.

“I don’t think young children should be exposed to that in any way - unsupervised by their parents or any adults,” said Emily Cassidy, one of the mothers opposing the memorial.

The parents and others protesting the memorial to Danny Dietz have began circulating fliers. Their opposition is about the location of the planned memorial as well as the design. The group also sent a letter to local school board members, residents who live nearby, members of the PTA and others protesting the location of the memorial.

Linda Cuesta, the parent of a child who was at Columbine High School during the deadly April 1999 shootings, said “That memory colors everything in my life,” but says she is sympahetic to the Dietz family. “Who wins here? It’s a tough situation.”

The Dietz family is devastated by the uproar over the memorial to their beloved son, husband, father, brother and grandson.

“It broke our hearts,” said Dan Dietz, who still lives in the area. “My son was fighting for her freedom to do exactly what she is doing. She put my son in the same category as Columbine. How does she have the audacity to do that?”

“The people who have never served in the armed forces are always the ones who speak the loudest against what the armed forces have done,” said Allan Stone of the Pat Hannon VFW Post No. 4666 i Littleton, which helped raise nearly $42,000 for the sculpture.

Cassidy claims that the opposition to the sculpture and location of the memorial are not meant to offend the Dietz family or denigrate Danny Dietz’s service. Cassidy and Cuesta both say that while the memorial was no secret, that they had no idea that the rifle would be a focal point of the sculpture.

“And while war memorials nationwide include rifles, swords, cannons and battleships, ‘trends are changing,’” said Cuesta, who has advocated on behalf of stronger gun laws.

According to the sculptor, Robert Henderson of Canon City, Colorado, Dietz is holding his rifle at ‘parade rest’ position on one knee, somewhere between ‘at attention and at ease.’ He would hope that school children would use it in their studies, when discussing war.

“Every piece that I make, somebody is not going to like it,” Henderson said. “Most of the people do, but you can’t satisfy everybody.”

According to a spokeswoman forthe city of Littleton, Kelli Narde, the complaints about the sculpture are arriving ‘at the eleventh hour,’ too late to change the sculpture which has already been cast and is mostly paid for.

“We’re proceeding with the plan,” she said. “This oppostion has come as a complete surprise; it’s been such a public process.”

According to Narde, Cuesta is the only person who has formally approached the city council about wanting the sculpture relocated. The dedication ceremony for the Danny Dietz Memorial Sculpture will be held at Berry Park in Littleton on July 4, which is the 2nd anniversary of the day that Danny Dietz’s body was recovered from the mountainside where he died in Afghanistan.

Denver Your Hub

Denver Post

I myself don’t see the correlation between a sculpture showing Danny Dietz posed like the photograph at the beginning of this article, and the Columbine Massacre. I lived near Columbine shortly before the massacre took place, so I’m very aware of the circumstance and the two have no relation at all. My son participated in wrestling tournaments in the gymnasium there. To me, there’s a huge difference. I’m extremely proud of the City Council of Littleton, Colorado for moving forward with the memorial to this brave American Hero. I agree with the gentleman from the VFW, when he said that the people who scream the longest and the loudest are those who have no idea what selfless service and sacrifice is and have never served in the military. I myself don’t see the cause for concern. I sure don’t feel that the weapon that Danny Dietz is holding is the “focal point” of the sculpture. I’m shocked that these people are attempting to denigrate Danny Dietz’s service and sacrifice like this. As a parent myself, I would be extremely proud to take my children to the memorial and share with them about Danny Dietz and use his story as an example of what love for Country, selfless service and sacrifice really means. Our children deserve to know and learn about Heroes like Danny Dietz. What better role model could a child have…

I’d like to thank Kevin Hamm, Littleton Community journalist from Your Hub, for the tip about this opposition. I would be very interested in hearing our reader’s thoughts on this, last minute protest to the memorial.


25 Responses to “Group Opposing Memorial to Fallen Navy Seal War Hero”

  1. Tracy on April 6th, 2007 8:12 am

    I agree with you Terri. I’ve got something up at Tanker Brothers too. When I saw this on Blackfive I couldn’t believe it.

    I, too, would be proud to take my boys to see this statue and explain who he was and what he did.

  2. Terri on April 6th, 2007 8:24 am

    I commented on your article this morning. After I got the email from Mr. Hamm about this, I got on the article right away, and scheduled it to post this morning early. I had done an article on Danny in March, which was how Mr. Hamm come to emailing me with the information. The Your Hub article that I’ve linked to, has some information in it that the Denver Post article didn’t have.

  3. Anthony on April 6th, 2007 8:37 am

    I’m going to be real negative today…Honestly, I just want to kick that ladies ass for being such an idiot. I’m going to try to make it out to the dedication ceremony. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some photos, etc… I’m sure there will be a bunch of moonbats there.

  4. Terri on April 6th, 2007 9:02 am

    Oh I’m sure there will be Anthony. It would be great to have someone from ASM there to show our support of the Dietz family. I look forward to the story you’ll write afterwards. If you do get the opportunity to go, please extend our heartfelt thanks to the Dietz family for their sacrifices.

  5. Kat in Ga: A Soldiers' Angel on April 6th, 2007 9:53 am

    Holy cow….. heartbreaking - and infuriating.

    Looking forward to reading about the dedication ceremony, etc…. My heart goes out to the Dietz family.

  6. SealPatriot on April 6th, 2007 12:18 pm

    No memorial for a hero-HELL NO!

  7. VTSharon on April 6th, 2007 12:24 pm

    Right or wrong, there is a connection between the high school shootings years ago at Columbine and the feelings these folks have toward the public glorification of weapons vis-a-vis memorials. It is, therefore, wrong to want to kick someone in the hind-end because of their concerns which, on their face, appear valid.

  8. Anthony on April 6th, 2007 12:42 pm

    Are you kidding me Sharon? This country was founded on violence. Should we stop teaching US history to children because we are scared they are fucked up in the head and are gonna shoot their classmates?

    That argument is insane. How about parents keep an eye on their children? How about parents give their kids a little ass kickin when they mess up. Screw this timeout, politically correct, bullshit.

    If your argument is that we are glorifying weapons by erecting a statue of a HERO, then you are also saying we glorify weapons every day we are thankful for living in this country.

  9. Terri on April 6th, 2007 12:51 pm

    I have to say, like Anthony that the parents should bear the responsibility for their children. In today’s society, too damn many parents rely on the schools to discipline their children and rely on television, video games and computers to babysit them, so they don’t have to be bothered. And then too many times, they’re the ones screaming that they’re misunderstood when their children flip out and do something, like the 2 kids did at Columbine. Quite honestly, having worked worth kids who were in the system, almost 90% of the teens that I worked with, had parents who couldn’t be bothered to parent. Unfortunately, that’s what’s wrong with a large majority of our kids today.

    I disagree with you Sharon, that a memorial where, as the picture depicts, the soldier is holding the weapon at parade rest, is NOT a glorification of violence. If perhaps it was depicted with him holding the weapon as if he was shooting it at someone, then the argument that it glorifies violence might possibly hold a bit more water, but in this case, it doesn’t at all.

  10. Kari on April 6th, 2007 2:25 pm

    I agree, Anthony and Terri. The gun that shot those poor kids at Columbine didn’t shoot itself. Their was someone pulling the trigger and there was someone NOT paying attention to their weapons or thier kids.

    A weapon, in this case a gun, but any kind of weapon doesn’t do ANYTHING on it’s own. It is the person who is carrying it that brings significance to that weapon. Two young teenagers did the killing vis-a-vis the guns, not the other way around. Those two young men did the “glorifying” of violence - not the gun. Place the responsability where it needs - the kids and their parents!

    Danny Dietz defended the lives of his teamates vis-a-vis his weapon and SAVED some lives. THAT IS WHAT IS BEING GLORIFIED! HIM, NOT THE WEAPON!

    Sorry, Anthony & Terri, just very wound up about this subject.

  11. VTSharon on April 6th, 2007 2:31 pm

    Calm down, Anthony. My only point was to suggest you see it through the eyes of certain parents at Columbine. And by the way, one thing that has been confirmed over and again through the events following 9/11 is “violence begets violence.” It’s got to stop sometime, but will never stop following the tactics we currently pursue - which is why I am all for Pelosi and others to persue dialogue rather than war.

  12. Terri on April 6th, 2007 2:44 pm

    As long as there are violent television shows and violent computer and video games glorifying violence, then we’re going to continue to see violence played out on the streets of America, ESPECIALLY because in our modern society in the United States, so many parents don’t parent their children, but instead allow the television, video games and computer to do it for them, so they don’t “have to be bothered.” As long as American parents continue to do so, we’re going to continue to see violent acts played out by our youth. Parents many times, don’t parent anymore, a sad but true fact in America. LTC (Retired) Dave Grossman has written extensively about this very subject. In fact he is a world renowned expert on school violence. Perhaps that should be an upcoming post of mine.

    It isn’t going to matter how much “dialogue” we pursue with some of these people, take Iran for instance. They may talk to you and pursue “dialogue” one day and shoot you in the back the next. The mentality of the people that Nancy Pelosi is trying to hae a dialogue with, isn’t one that’s akin to compromise and dialogue, but instead more prone to violence of the likes that most of us have never experienced or seen in our lives.

  13. SealPatriot on April 6th, 2007 3:13 pm

    Sharon, the question is, are the people who Pelosi is meeting for dialogue as well? We have seen it several times before. Saddam and the Cease Fire Agreements, Hitler and his talks with Chamberlain, and now Asad and Ahmedinejad who are supporting the flow of weapons into Iraq to be used against the public of the other muslim sect. I personally don’t think that these people are for dialogue over combat with any Americans period and the evidence agrees! Unless, they want to play mind games with us which is what I think the are doing right now with the abductions of British sailors and Marines in Iraqi waters that has recently transpired.

  14. ChrisG on April 7th, 2007 1:49 am

    Next week they will demand the Soldiers guarding the US Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to be issued batons instead of rifles…..

    The week after, they will demand the USMC Iwo Jima monument be taken down because it ‘glorifies violence; and *gasp* those are “baby killers” hoisting the flag.

    Then, one day, these fools who demand this and live in fear of INNANAMATE OBJECTS will wake up, and either find that they are living under an Islamofascist dictatorship or under the thumb of criminals.

    “And when they came for me, there was no one left”….

    Oh, and WHERE in the Constitution does it say the Speaker of the House has the authority to conduct unsanctioned ‘dialouge” with hostile nations? You do know that the full name for the Ba’ath Party is “The Arab National Socialist Ba’ath Party” correct? These are to fools who run Syria, and, until recently, Iraq. If “National Socialist” does not ring a bell, let me use it’s more common German title: NAZI.

    You do also understand that these islamofascists feel it is a divine right to lie and cheat an “infidel” in Dar el Harb (The House of War: anything not under Shiara law). They will say anything Pelosi wants to hear and then betray her. Saddam did this, Iran did this, Libya did this, and Syria just did it.

    Yet Pelosi just put on her abaya and smiled like the good dhimmi she is. So much for her progressive “values” on women’s rights…

    Make no mistake. We are in a war for everthing we hold dear. Every value the left SUPPOSEDLY holds religious adhearance too. This is what the islamofascists want to destroy. Yet the leftists are actually siding WITH those who would kill and enslave them!!!!!

    As if the left wasn’t disgusting enough.

  15. Terri on April 7th, 2007 6:00 am

    Hey ChrisG welcome to ASM! Glad you wandered over. Please don’t hesitate to stop by anytime and Thank YOU for what you do. Stay safe over there!

  16. Anthony on April 7th, 2007 8:47 am

    You made some excellent points Chris. The one thing you brought up, that we have yet to cover over her is Pelosi and her ridiculous headdress. I know this is a very small issue, but seriously what the hell? When foreign leaders come to the US, they don’t get out of their native garb and don cowboy boots and a stetson, do they?

    Anyways, just a very small aside I thought I’d throw out there.

  17. Leta on April 7th, 2007 10:30 am

    Terri thank you for sharing DJ’s story with your readers. MANY of us have been emailing, writing and contacting the City of Littleton showing support for the memorial.

    I won’t regurgitate what so many of you have said and with which I totally agree but I must say - Sharon - PLEASE!!! I did not grow up in a military family. I have never served (ashamedly) in the military. I do believe in many cases that violence begets violence but it has been proven over and over again that some just won’t “talk” it out and NEVER will! I am not registered as a member of any political party because I am an AMERICAN and that is the ONLY label I choose to wear. Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself for her recent trip to Syria and for claiming to be representing ME. She wasn’t and make NO mistake about that.

    There are no words adequate to express my thanks for men like Petty Officer Dietz. Nor are there words or actions for me to express my gratitude for our men and women in uniform who serve today to protect ALL of us and to assure ALL of us of our freedoms regardless of the way all to many choose to “mis”use them.

  18. ChrisG on April 7th, 2007 10:46 am

    Speaking of Stetsons, I brought mine to Iraq. It is on a locker next to my desk.

    And no, no foreign leader ever has had to drop their dress and adopt ours. That said, Pelosi has absolutly NO AUTHORITY to do what she is doing. I doubt she will be punished though. Double standards of the congress again.

    What Pelosi is doing is dangerous in its precidence. It is similar to all the damage Carter has done in the last 7 years. But then, standards of conduct and the law seem to not apply to these leftist morons (aka ‘useful idiots’).

    As for the memorial. I can see how some uneducated/misinformed people get upset about firearms; it is called brainwashing. It is a travesty that the media sensationalism and the anti-gun/anti-freedom groups are allowed to do this. The Columbine “shooters” only ended up being shooters because they were terrible bomb makers. Home-made bombs were their weapon of choice, but that weapon failed. I blame their parents, just as others rightly have. I also blame the school, to a much lesser extent, for not seeing this also. These fools wanted to blow up the school. Their invisible masters in the “trenchcoat mafia” told them how to build the bombs and where to plant them. This was more than the little minds of the media and anti-gun groups could ever see. Others have seen it though, but little has been done.

    The fact this monument shows a Soldier using his weapon to DEFEND the free must be put up. It reminds this simple minded people that firarms save their lives and protect their freedoms. It should also remind them that those freedoms are ultimatly guarded by The People. Notice that the weapon is held at ‘low ready’ and not aimed at anyone. His fingers are off the trigger, but ready. He is in as much of a non-threatening posture as is possible in this pose.

    This monument is, for those traumitized by the school shooting, akin to taking an arson victim to a camp fire. They may have an irrational fear of fire, but must learn that fire is useful and nessesary for survival. The same is true for weapons and the will to use them.

    Pacifists do not last long in the real world. They are made and kept free only by those who are willing and able to stand up to the jackels of the world. Those jackels are currently the islamofascists who demand a world-wide caliphate and the enslavement and destruction of all free “infidels” and our societies.

    Your cannot reason with these monsters. Talking only delays them as all they make are false promises. You cannot settle this diplomatically as diplomacy works only when both sides want peace.

    We, the West, want peace. The islamofacists want our culture, society, and freedoms destroyed and our peole killed or enslaved. You cannot reason with such people. History has proven that time and again.

  19. Terri on April 7th, 2007 11:12 am

    Well said Chris. Thanks once again for the reality, FROM the perspective that only the boots on the ground could give us. The perspective of those who ARE standing up against the terrorists of the world. Thank You Chris and your brothers and sisters who are on the front lines with you.

  20. Leta on April 7th, 2007 8:54 pm

    The latest report is that the City of Littleton is NOT backing down on this AT ALL - not even entertaining that idea. The memorial is scheduled for dedication ON SCHEDULE July 4th.

  21. Anthony on April 7th, 2007 8:58 pm


    They are too far in to the sculpting process. They’d have to just scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. It would just be throwing away all the money that was raised for the first statue. Hopefully I’ll make it out to the dedication and get you guys some photos.

  22. Anthony on April 7th, 2007 9:26 pm

    Speaking of being too far in to the project. I have a feeling that if these concerns were brought up earlier, the City of Littleton may have backed down and changed the sculpture. Obviously that is only speculation, but the way things are going lately I could see that easily happening.

  23. Terri on April 7th, 2007 9:30 pm

    I for one am darn glad that they’re standing their ground and going ahead as scheduled on this.

  24. adopt a navy seal on June 21st, 2008 6:12 am

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  25. Ashlee Stuver on December 30th, 2008 11:27 am

    Of course he is a war hero! To most of us selfish enough to believe that we are the only people in the world that matter, that modern society’s view points on what is proper and what isn’t, sure, a man holding a gun (mind you, protecting you and your rights with that gun) can influence immature citizens with ideas of excitement and fun. Is it fun to die? I’ve never heard it explained that way, but with all of the laziness and dull expectations of us Americans, what else are we supposed to do, right? Wrong. Rather than refusing to respect a man that not only gave up his happiness, but saved the happiness of another, be grateful that he cared enough about us to stick his neck out and protect our well being. Be grateful that this man was strong enough to endure hell week at BUDS. I for one have lost a great deal of respect for those Americans that are too weak to protect their homeland, yet deny a hero his right to a legacy in this country.

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