Leadership 6-6-1944: Maj. Dick Winters ’41 Memorialized with Statue
His story has spawned a best-selling book and an award-winning miniseries. His leadership has influenced several generations of young men and women in service to their country. His humbleness has transcended the international honors and accolades he received in his lifetime. And now his likeness has inspired a statue on the shores of Normandy, where Dick Winters the soldier led his band of 13 men behind enemy lines.
At a D-Day celebration of nearly 1,000 participants, the dedication ceremony of the Richard D. Winters Leadership Monument took place in Normandy, France, in honor of the late major. The unveiling was the culmination of a project launched and directed by Tim Gray, chairman of the World War II Foundation.
Ever the reluctant hero, Winters only agreed to allow the foundation to use his likeness if the monument recognized all members of the American army division who served, according to Gray. The 12-foot bronze statue was designed by renowned sculptor Stephen Spears.
As commander of E “Easy” Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Winters led U.S. soldiers in the destruction of a battery of German artillery that had been firing on Utah Beach, making it possible for Allied forces to move inland.
Winters gained national exposure from “Band of Brothers,” a 1992 book by Stephen Ambrose, and an HBO miniseries
that followed in 2001 based on the book. The story, based partly on Winters’ diaries from the war, chronicles the story of “Easy” Company.
F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield attended the ceremony and told the crowd that Winters “graduated from Franklin & Marshall prepared to lead other young Americans into the most extraordinary work any of us living today could ever hope to do.”
To celebrate Winters’ leadership, Porterfield announced the creation of the Maj. Dick Winters ’41 Award for Perseverance & Leadership at F&M. The award will recognize F&M students who demonstrate the greatest determination and strength of character.
“We who teach know that the talented students before us will face lifelong challenges harder than any exams we can design,” Porterfield said. “Some tests can be predicted, but most come unannounced. In preserving Major Winters’ story, we give this and all generations the timeless lesson F&M gave him: ‘Go out every day and do the best you can in all you try.’”
In His Own Words
In news stories around the world about the June 6 unveiling at Normandy, dignitaries, historians, politicians and fellow soldiers recounted Winters as a humble man with a keen awareness for what makes a good leader. Here is Winters in his own words:
• On leadership: “It’s something you have within you that gets the job done. You start with a cornerstone— honesty—and from there you build character, you build knowledge. With honesty goes being fair, making decisions, and being right, most of the time.”
• On war: “Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men.” (This quote is featured on the statue.)
• On preparation: “Anticipate problems and prepare to overcome obstacles. Don’t wait until you get to the top of the ridge and then make up your mind.”
The 12-foot statue represents all the members of the Army who took part in D-Day.
• On humility: “Remain humble. Don’t worry about who receives the credit. Never let power or authority go to your head.”
• On perseverance: “Hang tough—Never, ever give up.”
Reporting by Chris Karlesky ’01 & Jill Colford Schoeniger ‘86
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