"The last few days have been pretty difficult for our family, but not nearly as difficult as losing our son," Cindy Dietz said.
In recent days, a small group of parents have voiced their opposition to a plan by the family and the City of Littleton to place a $42,000 sculpture of her son, former Navy SEAL Danny Dietz, at Berry Park. The group says the sculpture, which will show a likeness of Dietz carrying an assault rifle, is unsuitable for a park setting with children around.
"It belongs some where in the city of Littleton. I don't think it belongs next to a playground. You've got play time and war time, and I just think those two subjects shouldn't mix," Gregg Mugele said.
Dietz was killed following an Al Qaeda ambush in Afghanistan in June 2005. He has been honored locally and nationally; given the Navy Cross posthumously.
His mother, Cindy Dietz, shared with reporters the emotional value the memorial and its location would bring. Berry Park is close to where Dietz grew up and attended school.
"It means the world. I get to go the park when I feel I need to and get to see a likeness of my son," said Cindy Dietz.
The statue is modeled after the last known picture taken of Danny Dietz while he was alive.
Opponents say they don't question Danny Dietz's valor, service or sacrifice. They do question what children may be exposed to when viewing a statue of a soldier with a gun. They say the sculpture may be more appropriate near a municipal or government building.
"The City of Littleton has lots of other property. I think there are statues in and around city hall, it could go there as well," said Mugele.
Dan Dietz, the fallen SEAL's father, says the criticism that the statue may be too violent for a park is beyond his comprehension.
"There is no violent nature of the statue, that's why we picked this one," said Dan Dietz.
Berry Park is in close proximity to several schools. Mugele says in choosing the appropriate site, he hopes the location will be at place where the concentration of children is smaller.
"In terms of setting and context, this is not the right place," said Mugele.
Cindy Dietz said it was "ironic" that her son died defending the opponents' right to disagree.
The city council says it respected the differing opinions of citizens, but added that support for the memorial and its site has been overwhelming. The family and the city plan to move ahead with the memorial and its unveiling on the Fourth of July.
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