NJ artist gives veterans preview of sculpture for World War I Memorial

It's been more than a labor of love for Sabin Howard. With each carve, the New Jersey sculptor remembers and honors the brave Americans who fought in the first world war.

"You hear the words 'in service of.' That's what I feel I'm in service of," Howard said. "I realized how much suffering has gone into their experience and how little caring is involved in our society towards people that have sacrificed."

The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission chose Howard to create a sculpture for the national memorial to remember a war they feared would be forgotten. The sculpture is called "A Soldier's Journey" and features five scenes and 38 figures. 

"He leads the battle charge. After that you have the cost of war," Howard said. "Here is transformed — shell shocked."

Every story is deeply personal and emotional, especially for veterans like Wilfred Selby, a medic who treated soldiers wounded in combat. As he looked at the faces of these sculptures in Howard's studio, he couldn't help but feel overwhelmed.

Image 1 of 5

Sabin Howard is sculpting the National WWI Memorial, a 58-foot-long relief that will be installed in Washington, D.C., in 2024. He works in his studio in Englewood, N.J. (FOX 5 NY Photo)

"It's very emotional," said Selby, who was among a group of veterans given an exclusive preview of the memorial in the workshop in Englewood in Bergen County.

Howard began sculpting this back in August 2019. As each stage is finished, it is taken to a foundry where it will be cast in bronze. All of it is expected to be completed at the end of 2023 and then brought to the National Mall in our nation's capital for a special unveiling on Memorial Day 2024.

Howard's hands still have a lot of work ahead of them. But for this artist, it is the least he can do to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and who lived this journey —a soldier's journey.

"Once a veteran, always a veteran," Shelby said.