They say no two roses are alike.
And this is the case for one of Denver’s unsung heroes. There will never be another Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose.
The late Maj. Gen. Rose, of Denver, is known for being the highest-ranking Jewish general killed in action. Former presidents and generals, such as Gen. “Lightning” Joe Collins and Dwight D. Eisenhower, credited him for ending World War II.
And yet, children at the Basisschool Maurice Rose in the Netherlands - which is where Rose is buried - know more about him than the kids at Denver Public Schools.
Denver resident Paul Shamon is doing something about that.
“I think it’s safe to say, at one time, those kids (attending the Basisschool Maurice Rose) knew more about Rose than our state legislators, rabbis and historians combined,” Shamon said. “It’s nice to see a wrong being righted.”
A few years ago, Shamon attended a book signing by Denver author Marshall Fogel who penned: “Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, the most decorated battle tank commander in U.S. military history.”
Like Fogel, Shamon first learned of Rose after seeing his military helmet on display and a picture of him hanging in the lobby of Rose Medical Center — named in honor of the war hero — which is located at 4567 E. Ninth Ave. in Denver’s Hale neighborhood.
The helmet and picture made a great impression on Shamon, who was just a boy. And the same for Fogel, a former lawyer, who decided to write his book on Rose after he closed his law practice. The two eventually shared their great admiration for Rose and developed a strong kinship.
Peoples’ memories of Rose were fading, Shamon said.
“This man deserved to be honored and remembered for his extraordinary sacrifice,” Shamon added. “He deserved a statue.”
A statue in Rose’s honor
In 2019, during a time when statues were being torn down across the country, Fogel and Shamon started fundraising for the Rose statue. Their goal was to raise $800,000 to erect a 10-foot-tall statue of Maj. Gen. Maurice Rose, to stand proudly on the grounds of the Denver capitol.
“No taxpayer funds were spent on the statue,” Shamon said. “All fundraising, including the maintenance of the statue, will be taken care of privately, in perpetuity.”
George Lundeen of Loveland was hired to sculpt the statue.
Lundeen’s father was a pilot in WWII, but the sculptor had not known of Rose. The more he learned about him as he worked on the project, it became clear that Rose is “one of the greatest American heroes of WWII,” Lundeen said.
“It’s an honor to work on a piece like this,” Lundeen said.
After three long years, thousands of Coloradoans will finally get to see the Rose statue when it’s installed in its new home at the Lincoln Veterans Memorial Park, with the best place for viewing being at 14th Avenue and Lincoln Street. The finished product will be complete with a QR code that statue visitors can scan to learn all about the late Rose. The statue’s dedication ceremony is expected to take place late Spring.
`The Clint Eastwood of the military’
Fogel described Rose as “the Clint Eastwood of the military.”
“He was a soldier’s soldier and that’s why his men loved him,” Fogel said.
The son of a rabbi, Rose enlisted in the military at 17, after dropping out of Denver’s East High School. He had to lie about being Jewish or the Army wouldn’t accept him. Rose had George Clooney-like looks and an obsession with winning WWII. He fought right alongside his soldiers in the 2nd and 3rd Armored Divisions - putting their needs before his - and he had the ear of all the top brass during the time.
“There are so many stories of how he made sure his men were fed before he ate. How he refused medical service to remove shrapnel until his men were taken care of first,” Fogel said. “He’s even buried in the Netherlands, right next to his men.”
In fact, his only criticism was that he didn’t wear all his ribbons on his chest, added Fogel, and he always placed his command posts dangerously close to the front.
In comparison, Rose’s accomplishments are too many to note. But some of Fogel’s most extraordinary findings include:
• As head of the 3rd Armored Division, Rose liberated numerous towns in France and Belgium.
• He was the first to breach the Siegfried Line.
• Rose led the first ground invasion in Germany from the west and fought three Nazi counter-attacks during the Battle of the Bulge.
• He was the first to shoot down a German plane on German soil and lead a tank unit into Nazi Germany.
• Rose held the record for the longest one-day advance in history, covering 100 miles.
• Rose captured Cologne, Germany, and moved 16,000 soldiers in 24 hours to circle the Ruhr pocket. The encirclement led to the capture of 325,000 Nazi soldiers, and World War II comes to an end.
Rose earned every honor a general could at the time, including a Distinguished Service Cross, a Distinguished Service Medal, a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, a Legion of Merit, a Purple Heart, a French Legion of Honor, a French Croix and a Belgian Croix.
Rose was killed in his Jeep during a random stop by the Germans. He was about to surrender, peacefully, when he was shot. According to Fogel, the Germans didn’t know of his rank because they left him to die on the side of the road. Two weeks later, WWII ended.
“Gen. Patton craved the media attention. Not Rose,” Shamon said. “He was just here to win both WWI and WWII. He always flew under the radar and that’s why he was so respected by regular people — and presidents.”