War veterans in Dedham, Mass., are up in arms over a giant bunny statue.
The large fiberglass bunny -- which was originally named "Leroy" before its name was changed to "Peace" -- was created in January by an artist and veteran to honor Joe Pagliuca, a local vet who died that month.
However, its placement next to a veteran's memorial just days before Flag Day has other veterans like Frank Currin hopping mad.
“Why isn't it down here where the playgrounds are. And they have it sitting right next to the monument,” Currin griped to WHDH-TV.
It's traditional for soldiers to fire guns in Oakdale Square on Flag Day, but Currin refused to do so because he didn't care at all for the bunny.
However, bunnies are as much of a tradition in a town that has been featured in local pottery for years. And the giant bunny statue is one of 15 that are being placed around town to raise funds and promote the arts.
Dedham Parks Department Director Bob Stanley acknowledged to the Boston Globe that the veterans weren't chicken about expressing their distaste towards the bunny, but said his hands were tied.
“Honestly, we sat there and it did get a little heated, but we had already given permission to the Dedham Art Project to have the bunny there, and we cannot go back on that decision without calling for a public meeting,” Stanley told the Globe
Monika Wilkinson, co-president of Dedham Shines, the organization behind the bunny statue program, insisted that "Leroy/Peace" was placed at Oakdale Square with careful consideration of the monument and added that permission was granted by the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“Those leading the Dedham Public Art Project have acted only with positive intentions for this community,” Wilkinson told the Dedham News Transcript by email. “The temporary placement of the sculpture in Oakdale Common was done with sensitivity and respect for the monument that shares this public space and with gratitude to the men and women of the armed forces who are honored there.”
Dana McQuaid, commander of the VFW Post 2017, disagreed.
“The veterans monument is not a place for something like that,” he said of the rabbit to the paper. “That’s hallowed ground.”
Meanwhile, the bunny is starting to get his share of rabbit, er, rabid supporters.
“I think it's fun. I think people are making a much bigger deal about it, I think they should be enjoying it,” Millie Smart told WHDH-TV.
Some veterans even are defending Leroy.
“When the veterans want to do something, we allow them to do those things. Why can't the town of Dedham put the bunnies that show the spirit of Dedham where they want to go?” said Paul Grimes, a Navy veteran, to WHDH-TV.
Meanwhile, the giant rabbit will be the topic of a public hearing on Monday.
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