Footprints in the Sand

Written by Teresa Dennard.

Harness dream becomes reality

Most people have read some version of the Footprints in the Sand poem. The words are very moving. Bob Harness read it for the first time on the back of a program while attending a local funeral. He was intrigued by it, took it home to his studio to sketch and also make a three-dimensional model. The year was 2008. A couple years passed when friends brought Dr. Kirby Hill to see Harness’s sculpture collection. “He noticed the 3-D model and liked it,” recalled Harness. “He looked at other things I’d made, but came back to the model and said, ‘This is so beautiful, it has to be built.’

Harness had shown the model to several people, all commenting it was a beautiful piece of art, all wanting to know when and where it was going to be built. Harness recalled, “One night after the Country Music Hayride, several of us were at Hushpuppies restaurant. The owner, Liz Wakefield, visited with us and asked what I was working on now. I told her I was finishing an eagle, but the project I really wanted to get started on was the Footprints in the Sand with Christ carrying this old man.

She said she knew just the man to use as the model, a friend of hers, Mr. Willie George from Henderson.” A few weeks later, Wakefield arranged a meeting between the two men. Harness said it would take about $250,000 to complete the sculpture. George wrote a check for $25,000 to get the process started. “I got kinda teary-eyed when he wrote that check. Here’s a dream I’ve had for years, and it’s finally becoming a reality. The strange thing is, after all these years, the drawing looks like the guy I picked for the model. I think it’s a God thing--He had his hand in it for sure,” stated Harness. “Ever since then, things have really started to roll. I hope there’s no stopping point until we get it done.”

With the donation from George, Harness was able to begin work on the sculpture in January of 2012. Dr. Hill and the Ministerial Fellowship began organizing a campaign to get the community involved. A committee made up of community leaders was formed to help work out the details involved with completing the 15 foot monument. Over 100 people have volunteered their time to help with the project. Robert Pope, a fellow Gideon with Harness, has gone to the studio almost every day. He says, “I just want to be part of it.” David Goodwin completed all the welding at no charge. Brenda Giles, Rose Helen Reid, and Kay McGough brought their classes to help with adding clay to the sculpture. The Home School Association students spent a morning adding clay; a group of ladies from the First Christian Church helped; Ann Boland brought her art class from Panola College along with many others that just wanted to be a part of this moving project. Giles stated, “For my mother’s 80th birthday, we had a party at my house, and I took the ladies across the street to Bob’s studio for a tour. Instead of bringing birthday gifts, they all donated money and presented a check for $500 to help build the statue.”

The Footprints in the Sand committee is giving the community an opportunity to be involved in the monument. Granite plaques will be sold ranging from $150-$500. Location of the monument is yet to be determined, but will be in Carthage, possibly on the loop. Harness stated, “I want this to be a community project where everybody can get involved, from the smallest to the oldest.” If interested in helping get the monument completed, contact Dr. Kirby Hill at 903.631.9483. All donations are tax deductible.

“I think the Lord put the desire in people’s hearts that this monument needs to happen,” Dr. Hill added. “Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Beauty is its own excuse for being.’ Sometimes a thing should be built because it’s beautiful. Besides that, the times are just right for something like this in our world. There are so many depressing things, and this is something that would bring hope to people. It’s amazing to me to think that 500 years from now, this monument will still be here. When we’re dead and gone, something we did will be here for others to enjoy.”


One night God and I walked on the beach.
Scenes of my life flashed before me
Like lightning in the sky.
Sometimes a flash revealed two sets of footprints,
Sometimes one.
This troubled me because it was
When I was most lonely,
Or hurt most deeply,
That I saw one set of footprints.
So I said,
“Lord, you promised me
You would always walk with me,
Bur during my most trying hours
I saw only one set of footprints.”
The Lord replied,
“My child,
When you saw only one set of footprints
I took you in my arms
And carried you."