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Monument to honor canine veterans unveiled in Columbia

Published: Nov. 12, 2015 at 2:37 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 22, 2015 at 2:37 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Veterans in Columbia saw a new memorial honor some of war's forgotten heroes.

During a dedication ceremony Wednesday, the War Dogs Memorial was unveiled in Veterans Memorial Park. The bronze statue stands eight feet tall and features a soldier kneeling behind his dog, representing all military service members and their canine counterparts.

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"It really does depict exactly what we looked like and the equipment we carried and what the dog looks like. It's so realistic that a lot of our dogs would go up and sniff the monument thinking it was another dog," Vietnam Veteran and military dog handler Richard Steinberg said.

Dozens of veterans and current military members, many with their dogs by their side, attended the celebration. Steinberg came all the way from Florida for the unveiling with his dog, Kira.

"We never were really alone. We always had the dog with us," Steinberg said. "It was like a little something from home because most of us had dogs or had pets of some sort so we had somebody to share our experiences with us and what I like to tell people,  the dogs were not really trained to guard whatever it was we were guarding they were trained to guard us."

The 1,700-pound monument took Renee Bemis, the Illinois-based sculptor, about four years to complete.

The monument visited Marines in Camp Lejeune, airmen in Seymore Johnson Air Force Base, and soldiers at Fort Bragg before making its final stop in Columbia.

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