Charles George VA Medical Center - Asheville, NC
September 15, 2016
CHARLES GEORGE VA MEDICAL CENTER, Asheville, N.C. – On Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 11 a.m., Charles George VA Medical Center hosted an unveiling ceremony for a statue of the facility’s namesake, Private First Class Charles George, a native of Western North Carolina and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. George was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1954 for conspicuous gallantry and outstanding courage above and beyond the call of duty during the Korean War.
“What a privilege it is to honor a true hero in such a memorable way,” said Medical Center Director, Cynthia Breyfogle. “The legacy of Charles George was and still is an inspiration and influence beyond his community. His courage and example join those of other brave men and women, past and present, who have answered the call when their country needed them.”
The ceremony was the culmination of months of hard work and dedication. The statue was sculpted by Navy Veteran James Spratt and was his final work. Funds were raised with the help of members of the Charles George Memorial Fund Project Committee, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and the community.
“James Spratt asked me to share these words with you,” said Warren Dupree, Memorial Fund Committee Member. “He wanted to thank the namesake of this true hero, and for the wonderful treatment he had received while he was here (at Charles George VA Medical Center.) He wanted to give back and this was his way of giving back to the Veterans of the United States armed forces.”
The statue was one of two life-sized statues made. The other statue will be placed in Cherokee facing the statue at the Charles George VA Medical Center and dedicated in a ceremony on November 15.
The event featured dancing by the Warriors of the Anikituhwa, singing by the New Kituwah Academy and Miss Cherokee Taran Swimmer, remarks by tribal leaders and elders, and traditional Cherokee blessings.
“My hope today is that we all take these values that Charles and James possessed and we honor them and these values that they clearly stood for here today by working together for a better world,” said Patrick Lambert, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.