Doughboy Rededication Iconic statue first dedicated 75 years ago

Staff photo by Fritz Busch The “Spirit of the American Doughboy” Rededication Program begins at 2 p.m. today in the New Ulm City Cemetery.

NEW ULM — A rededication program to honor and perpetuate the noble and valiant deeds of those who served in World War I begins at 2 p.m. today in the New Ulm City Cemetery.

The Spirit of the American Doughboy statue in the New Ulm City Cemetery is the only such statue in Minnesota. It was originally cast in Chicago, and placed and dedicated on May 30, 1942.

The program will include a welcome by Master of Ceremonies Terry Dempsey, a reading of the poem “In Flanders Fields” by George Glotzbach, placement of a Memorial Wreath by the Post 132 American Legion and VFW Post 1648, a keynote address by New Ulm Mayor Bob Beussman, firing of Civil War era cannons by the New Ulm Battery, a 21-gun salute, Taps, and white dove release.

The original New Ulm Doughboy was dedicated in 1942. It became weathered and in poor structural condition by the mid-1990s. Vandalism was suspected but no charges were ever filed after the statue was found pulled over on Valentine’s Day in 1995.

A $42,000 replica was cast from parts of the original statue by Innocast Corp. in Howard Lake. It was funded by the community and matching donations from Citizens Bank, Farmers and Merchants Bank and State Bank and Trust Co.

The original statue rifle is on display at American Legion Post 132 in downtown New Ulm. The original grenade and clutching right hand is on display at the Brown County Historical Society and Museum downtown.

In observance of the 100th anniversary of World War I, a Doughboy statue replica was erected this year at the Minnesota Historical Society.

During the Depression, the sculptor of the New Ulm Doughboy, E. M. Viquesney, turned to casting the statues in zinc to reduce manufacturing costs. There are three statues made of southern-mined marble.

Viquesney didn’t want his statue to portray the glamour and heroics of the American Doughboy in battle. He wanted it to show what the average hometown soldier had to endure in war, burdened under his heavy packback, armed with a viciously bayoneted rifle, and carrying a gas mask pouch.

For more information, visit www.doughboysearcher.weebly.com

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com)

COMMENTS