Danny Dietz Memorial Dedicated July 4, 2007
A ceremony was held July 4, 2007 to dedicate the memorial statue of fallen Navy SEAL Danny "D.J." Dietz at the Berry Park extension in Littleton. The date marked the 2-year anniversary of the family's notification of his death. The bronze sculpture was placed in the park to honor Dietz, who grew up in Littleton. The event was attended by an estimated 3,000 people, including several hundred active and retired members of America's military.
The Navy Honor Guard presented the colors as the Littleton Community Band performed the Star Spangled Banner. Speakers during the ceremony included Honorable Donald C. Winter, Secretary of the Navy; Rear Admiral Joseph D. Kernan, Commander of Naval Special Warfare; United States Congressman Tom Tancredo; Medal of Honor recipient Mike Thornton; and Mrs. Tiffany Bitz, Dietz' sister. The master of ceremonies, Littleton Mayor Jim Taylor delivered the opening remarks, and pastor Larry Herrera, Danny's godfather, gave the invocation. Joining the speakers on the stage were Danny's mother and father, Dan and Cindy Dietz, his younger brother Eric, and Danny's grandmother Dolores Gilmer.
"He was taken too soon from us, but he leaves behind a legacy that inspires us today and serves as a shining example of heroism and courage for future generations," said Secretary Winter during his remarks. "Years from now, people will look upon this sculpture and be reminded of the heroism of a son of Colorado whose country he was proud to serve. Danny Dietz’ soul now belongs to God, but his acts of valor belong to history."
About midway through the ceremony, four F16 fighter jets flew out of the west and directly over the sculpture. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the sculpture was unveiled by members of Dietz’s family. Special guests in attendance at the ceremony included State Representative Joe Rice, Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman, State Senator Steve Ward, Littleton Mayor Pro-tem Rebecca Kast, and city council members John Ostermiller, Bruce Stahlman, Doug Clark and Amy Conklin.
The crowd was respectful of the significance of the ceremony and what it meant to the Dietz family. After the unveiling, people solemnly made their way to the small park to view the sculpture and meet the family. Many left flowers, notes, medals and other mementos at the foot of the sculpture, including more than 100 long-stemmed roses laid at its base, one by one.
The bronze 1.3:1 scale statue by Cañon City sculptor Robert Henderson is based on one of the last photos taken of Dietz just before his fatal mission, showing him in a crouched position, dressed in full combat gear and holding his M-4 rifle on one knee. "Dietz is holding the rifle in a 'parade-rest' position on one knee," Henderson said. "Somewhere between 'at attention' and 'at ease.' He hopes that school children will use it in their studies when discussing war.
Today, visitors to the memorial are likely to meet Dan or Cindy Dietz who visit the park often to sit on the bench next to the sculpture of their son. They are delighted to greet and talk with visitors who have come to Littleton to see the memorial. "As a boy, Danny used to play right here in this neighborhood," says Cindy. "When people come down to this park, I want them to remember Danny and all our service men and women who give so much and ask so little. I hope his sculpture reminds people of the sacrifices our military makes everyday."
The city has produced a short historical video on Danny Dietz. Click on the title to open the video in a bigger window.