"Land of the Free"Statue Erected on Main Street
By: Jean Voege, Main Street Manning Executive Director
Manning's Main Street now has seven solid bronze statues lining thanks to the installation of "Land of the Free" on the east side of the VFW Hall on Friday, October 16, 2020.
The Design Committee of Main Street Manning (MSM) was instrumental in securing this statue as well as the others that line the street. When asked why this particular statue was chosen to adorn the streets of Manning, Marsha Clausen, Chair of the Design Committee, said, "Bravery is a word often thrown about without true thought to its meaning. Our soldiers, past and present, willingly risk their lives to save and protect the many, and their bravery saved the world from a terror unlike any we could have imagined. My Uncle George Seite served in World War II and was reported as missing in action and was eventually liberated from a German Concentration Camp at the end of the war. I am in awe when I reflect on the sacrifice that our soldiers made to protect our freedoms. Manning has always had strong military history and we are proud to be in "The Land of the Free!"
Clausen continued, "In the summer of 2019, Manning was selected to host '"Voices and Votes: Democracy in America,"' a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. We felt that the Land of the Free would be an excellent '"fit"' with the opportunity to host this exhibit."
The initial funds to pay for the statue, valued at over $6,800, were raised by a free-will donation at the Souper Tuesday Soup Supper hosted by the Organization Committee of Main Street Manning on Tuesday, March 3. Additional funds were donated by the American Legion Auxiliary to the Emil Ewoldt American Legion Post #22. The VFW Post #3517 had secured a grant to help fund Main Street Manning's efforts to host the "Voices and Votes" exhibit.
When the Covid 19 pandemic forced the cancellation of that exhibit the Manning VFW Post #3517 kindly donated the money to the funding of the statue. A donation of over $4,600 by the Emil Ewoldt American Legion Post #22 in June 2020 allowed for the purchase of the statue which was forged by BronzeMan in Agoura Hills, California. Because of the long term working relationship between Marsha Clausen and BronzeMan, the company covered the cost of shipping. The Manning Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW Post #3517 will donate the cost of the commemorative plaque that will be placed near the statue.
The placement of the statues on Main Street and within the Main Street District had its start in 2015 when the Main Street Manning Design Committee in collaboration with Manning's Visionary Committee was able to secure funding through donations and grants for the purchase of the "Leap Frog" and "Girl with the Fountain" statues in the Manning City Park. Since that time, additional funding has been secured to fund the other six statues on Main Street.