Peacekeeper statue at Beirut Memorial is a combination of power and kindness
By JANNETTE PIPPIN | The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C. | Published: October 22, 2018
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — When artist Abbe Godwin took on the task of designing the 6-foot statue of a Marine that now stands watch at the Beirut Memorial, she was given a very specific concept to follow.
But bringing to life the Marine in The Peacekeeper was more than molding a sculpture into a figure for Godwin.
You can see it in his eyes.
The camouflaged uniform and M-16 rifle in the hand of the Marine in the traditional pose of standing guard give the impression of power, but look a little closer and Godwin hopes you’ll also feel a level of kindness when viewing the statue.
“The challenge in this piece was to give it a sense of presence; to give the figure a sense of power but also a feeling of good,” Godwin said.
Godwin said she has tremendous respect for the men and women who serve our country as guardians of freedom, and that service is for good.
“I believe we’re a force for good for the world,” she said. “We could use that force for bad or for good and I think our country uses it for good.”
Godwin now lives in Greensboro but was born in Jacksonville and her family has strong connections to the area. Her husband is a former Marine and her grandparents were among the landowners in the area that is now Camp Lejeune.
“Jacksonville is special to me,” Godwin said.
When she heard about the memorial plans and that they were looking for someone to create the statue, she didn’t hesitate to apply.
Godwin said she has to be engaged with the subject matter for her to take on a project and she also wants the public to respond to what they see when they view the Peacekeeper statue or any of her artwork.
Part of what draws people to Godwin’s work is the detail.
If you didn’t know better, you might think the rifle is the real thing, and look close and you’ll see the “stitching” in the gear or veins on the Marine’s arm.
Godwin said the wedding band is there for a reason. It indicates family, the lives impacted when their loved ones gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country.
“In an artwork you want people to spend time viewing it,” she said. “The richer you can make it appear to them, the more they will look (at the artwork) and they will think about it.”
The Peacekeeper statue isn’t the first sculpture Godwin has done for a military memorial.
She also designed the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans Memorial, entitled After the Firefight, which stands on the grounds of the State Capitol in Raleigh. And she is currently working on the bronze statue for the Corpsmen Memorial, which will also be constructed at Lejeune Memorial Gardens.
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