Veterans Memorial Mueseum of Branson
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World’s Largest Bronze Memorial Statue waiting outside the foundry in Joseph, Oregon to receive its patina.

The statue, created by internationally renowned sculptor and museum owner, Fred Hoppe, was completed in October of 2000. Its arrival in Branson on flat back trucks caused one local newspaper to say, "It looked like Toy Story had come to life." The statue was unveiled at the Grand Opening of the museum in November of 2000.

Each figure in the WWII centerpiece is modeled after an actual combat soldier, one from each of the fifty states. Leading the charge up the beach is Fred's father, the late Fred Hoppe Sr., a highly decorated war hero.

Over five tons of clay was used to sculpt the sculpture. Once the mold is cast, the clay is discarded and the mold is filled with wax. The wax casting is dipped in a plaster-ceramic mixture that forms a hard shell once it dries. Spouts are added at the top and bottom of each piece. The shell is then heated to 1,200 degrees in an oven. All the wax runs out through the bottom spout or evaporates. Before the shell has a chance to cool, it is filled with molten bronze, heated to 2,200 degrees. The piece is then cooled overnight and a hammer is used to chip away the plaster shell the next day.

The sculpture is finished with a sand blaster to remove any blemishes and impurities are ground out using a method known as "metal chasing". A torch is used to burn a substance called patina into the metal to give it color. Fred then sealed the sculptures with wax and lacquers and then bolted it to its base. He used Joseph's Foundry in Joseph, Oregon and completed the sculpture in 10 months. "We have around a million dollars in materials put into this sculpture and we put its value at three million dollars," says Fred.



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