Oklahoma ‘Doughboy’ statue restored, rededicated
A crowd gathers on Nov. 11 next to the restored “Spirit of An American Doughboy” statue outside Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Muskogee. CHESLEY OXENDINE/THE DAILY PHOENIX VIA AP
MUSKOGEE (AP) – Dist. 6 State Rep. Chuck Hoskin said he sees his uncle when he walks past the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue at Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
“It not only stands for my uncles, but for all of your relatives who took part in that war,” Hoskin, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said to a gathered crowd at the recent rededication ceremony for the statue. “We have to make sure our children and their children understand what this statue means.”
The ceremony comes on the heels of a $25,000 restoration project to clean and restore the statue, one of 143 existing “Doughboy” statues nationwide, according to a release from the event, and one of two memorializing Native American wartime service. The statue is a “hollow” version made of copper infused bronze sheets pressed over a frame.
“Doughboy” is an informal term for a member of the U.S. Army or Marine Corps.
The statue was originally brought to memorialize the service of the Five Civilized Tribes during World War I. Part of the restoration process was adding a small monument extending that memorialization to all veterans who have served in all wars, Graham said.
“Tulsa Monuments sandblasted it using finely ground pecan shells, and then cleaned it. After that, they resealed it and they cleaned all the granite, and attached a plaque to mark it for the National Register of Historic Places,” Vandelia Graham, Green Country director for the Oklahoma State Daughters of the American Revolution, told the Muskogee Phoenix.
The ceremony saw a large crowd pack into the medical center’s chapel to hear from a variety of speakers such as Hoskin. Members of the DAR spoke about relatives who had fought in World War I, sharing stories of grandfathers and uncles. Dr. Ferlin Clark, president of Bacone College, shared a Navajo honor song to commemorate code talkers who had assisted in both World Wars.
Graham said the turnout was “wonderful.”
“I didn’t nearly expect so many people to attend,” she said.
One of those people was Ruth Summers, a Muskogee native whose relative served in World War I.
“This is just incredible to me,” Summers said. “To see all this community support — it really tells you what Muskogee thinks of her veterans, I think. They mean a lot to this place.”