Workers from Lee Industrial Contracting spent two days, Feb. 28 and March 1, putting together the sculpture, “Les Braves II: At Water’s Edge,” at The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Workers from Lee Industrial Contracting spent two days, Feb. 28 and March 1, putting together the sculpture, “Les Braves II: At Water’s Edge,” at The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Monumental new sculpture to be celebrated during Memorial Week

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 9, 2023

 A crane was used to move elements of “Les Braves II” into place.

A crane was used to move elements of “Les Braves II” into place.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran


GROSSE POINTE FARMS — Memorial Day has always been one of the most important days of the year for The War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms, but this year, the nonprofit will have something new to honor veterans.

“Les Braves II: At Water’s Edge,” a large sculpture on the lake side of the property, will be dedicated during a ceremony May 25. “Les Braves” is the work of French sculptor Anilore Banon, who created the first “Les Braves” for Normandy Beach, where it’s situated in the Vierville-sur-Mer on Omaha Beach at the junction of the Dog Red and Easy Green sectors. The original artwork was created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion and honors the Allied forces who landed on Omaha Beach during World War II on June 6, 1944.

“Les Braves II” is 50 feet wide and 25 feet tall. The three parts of the sculpture represent three elements: The Wings of Hope; Rise, Freedom; and The Wings of Fraternity. Banon will be speaking during the sculpture’s official dedication May 25.

“I see the people that fought there and brought freedom and honor back,” Banon said in a press release about what she sees in “Les Braves II.” “I see the courage of these young people leaving their country for others.”

The stainless steel “Les Braves II” weighs 11.5 tons and took more than a week to arrive from France on a shipping vessel that docked at a port in New York. From there, the pieces that make up the sculpture were transported by rail to Livonia, where 15 containers housing sections of the work were driven by three trucks to The War Memorial. Unloading and assembling started Feb. 28 and continued March 1.

“It’s more than exciting,” interim War Memorial President and CEO Maria Miller said. “I have the sense of awe.”

Miller said “Les Braves II” represents “the bravery, the sacrifices” made by service members, but it’s also an uplifting work.

“I love the concept of hope and wings that rise and the concept of freedom” encompassed by the sculpture, Miller said. “It’s come to mean a lot of different things.”

Former War Memorial President and CEO Charles Burke, who left earlier this year, hand-selected each of the boulders that will hide the seawall from those on the ground looking at the sculpture. Miller said the boulders were placed on the grounds circa December 2022, in anticipation of the arrival and installation of “Les Braves II.”

“We wanted to get the boulders placed before we got the sculpture in,” said Bill Hidinger, of Frank Rewold and Sons Inc., project superintendent for “Les Braves II.”

Besides being time-consuming and weather-dependent — unpredictable winter conditions delayed the initially planned installation of “Les Braves II” — workers faced other hurdles.

While digging out the area for the concrete foundation, Hidinger said, they had to keep pumping out water.

“The groundwater table in that area basically matches the lake (level),” Hidinger said.

To prevent the sculpture from moving due to the lake and underground water, Hidinger said, each element of the sculpture is anchored by a 4-foot-deep concrete foundation, and each of those foundations has four helical piers that go down 25 feet.

Hidinger postponed his retirement to oversee installation of “Les Braves II,” for which Miller said War Memorial officials were grateful and honored.

“The team (at Frank Rewold & Sons Inc.) has a tremendous amount of pride in this job,” Miller said.

Wesley Lawrence, the owner’s representative for Metro Business Service, served as the liaison for the whole team. He also worked on the new Fred M. Alger Center.

“This has been a great venture,” Lawrence said. “This has been awesome.”

“Les Braves II” is completed and on view now, but its installation will be marked more formally during Memorial Week at The War Memorial.

The week will begin with the return of An Evening of Red, White and Blue, a gala at 6 p.m. May 24 that will include the formal dedication of the Fred M. Alger Center. Tickets cost $225 apiece.

A public dedication ceremony for “Les Braves II” will take place at 6:30 p.m. May 25. It will include a performance by the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, metro Detroit musician Dave Bennett and a keynote speech from Professor Greg Jackson. Grounds will open at 5:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register by visiting The War Memorial’s website.

The week will conclude with the solemn Memorial Day service, which will take place at 10 a.m. May 29. This annual tradition is also free and open to the public, but attendees are being asked to register this year by visiting The War Memorial’s website.

“Memorial Week has always been a time for our organization to remember the courage of ordinary men and women who have done the extraordinary in times of war and conflict,” Miller said in a press release. “We reflect on the selfless ones that serve our country and pay homage to those whose lives were sacrificed in battle and conflict. To take one day, or even one week, to pay tribute to those that gave so much, is the very least we can do as Americans.”

Those who can’t attend any of the Memorial Week programs are welcome to come and see the sculpture whenever The War Memorial is open, except when there’s a wedding taking place, Miller said.

“I want (people) to know that it is free to the public to come see this,” Miller said. “They can come and reflect and enjoy.”

To register or for more information about any of the Memorial Week programs, visit or call (313) 881-7511.