Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge in the News

Article Source: Bucks Courier Times, Original Article

Photo Source: Guardians of Washington Crossing National Cemetery

By Peg Quann

UPPER MAKEFIELD – An 8-foot tall bronze statue of George Washington, reflectively kneeling on one knee with his hands clasped in prayer, will be unveiled at Washington Crossing National Cemetery May 20. The Guardians of WCNC raised the funds needed to provide the cemetery the artistic gift.

The Guardians, a group founded when the cemetery opened in 2010 to help oversee its beautification, wanted a keepsake that would be “significant, patriotic and classically appropriate,” said John Heenan, Guardians treasurer and chairman of the monument committee. “We could think of no tribute more appropriate than George Washington watching over his troops.”

Who sculpted the George Washington statue?

The statue was created by sculptor Jennifer Frudakis-Petry of Plumstead based on a similar statue at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.

The Veterans Administration, which administers the cemetery, needed to see a picture of what type of sculpture was proposed so the Freedoms Foundation sculpture was used as a model, though the sculpture that Frudakis-Petry actually made has a more “serene” countenance than the one in Valley Forge. Created by sculptor Donald De Lue, that one depicts Washington commanding the American forces during the Revolutionary War.

Frudakis-Petry thought the peaceful look of her sculpture is more fitting for the cemetery setting. It is entitled “Washington Kneeling in Prayer.”

Frudakis-Petry, who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, referred to a death mask of Washington’s face from the Smithsonian Institution and had a re-enactor dress in Colonial-era military garb so she could get the drape of his clothing just right for the sculpture, Heenan said.

Shell casings used to make bronze

The statue was made using the brass shell casings from the rifle salutes made at the funerals at the cemetery. Frudakis-Petry said the casings were melted and mixed with copper and other metals to form the bronze. The statue was recently placed on a three-foot base made by students at the Williamson College of the Trades in Media. The statue was delivered through the donated service of Thackray Crane.

The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the cemetery, 830 Highland Road. Retired U.S. Marine Corps General and former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly will be the keynote speaker.

Troopers of the First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry will present the colors for the event and Lauren Hart, anthemist for the Philadelphia Flyers, will sing the “Star Spangled Banner.” 

Veterans serve as honor guard

Robert Craven, president of the Guardians, said that in addition to leading beautification efforts, the group is “the parent organization of the Washington Crossing Honor Guard who are U.S. military veterans trained and certified to render full military funeral honors for veterans in support of the U.S. military mission.” Craven said.

The cemetery includes 205 acres and should have enough burial places for 50 years. It serves an area with a 75-mile radius. The cemetery currently has 27,000 burials and has space for 15,000 more before further expansion begins in 2026. It eventually can hold more than 150,000 burials.

(Please note that this article was originally published on via the Bucks Courier Times as cited above. Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge does not claim shared articles or their picture(s) as original work.)

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