Day Trips: World War I Memorials
Communities around Texas remember their fallen sons from the Great War
World War I memorials began sprouting on Texas courthouse lawns and public spaces almost as soon as the conflict ended.
The U.S. entered the war on April 6, 1917. Approximately 198,000 Texans served, including 450 women as nurses. At least 5,246 Texans lost their lives.
The most iconic of the war memorials is John Paulding's Over the Top to Victory. The 1920 bronze statue features a doughboy running with a rifle in one hand and the other hand raised in a clinched fist. At least 24 of these statues survive around the country, including on the southeast corner of the Llano County Courthouse Square.
There were several imitators of Paulding's sculpture, but the most successful was E.M. Viquesney. Between 1921 and 1942, the Indiana-born artist sold at least 159 of Spirit of the American Doughboy around the country. The pressed tin statues were installed at Texas courthouses in Canyon, Crowell, Groesbeck, Lufkin, New Braunfels, Vernon, and Sinton. Others were placed at a Fort Worth cemetery and the Wichita Falls auditorium.
Along with Viquesney's Doughboy statue, Crowell, southwest of Wichita Falls, has the only stone Spirit of the American Navy known to exist. The artist only sold six of the metal tributes, none to Texas.
There are many other memorials to the war dead around the state. One of the most heart-wrenching memorials is at the grave of Corporal Otis Henry in Texarkana's Rose Hill Cemetery. His mother paid for the stone monument, which includes a statue of Corporal Henry and a copy of the doughboy design. Henry was killed 35 days before the end of the war on Nov. 11, 1918.
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