Inaugural flag raising July 4 at the Doughboy statue

Published 1:44 pm Monday, June 26, 2017

The star spangled banner has yet to wave over the Doughboy at the intersection of Mills and Courthouse streets in Columbus. During the more than 90 years that he has stood watch outside the Polk County Courthouse, the grand old flag has never risen above him to fly in his honor and that of the local heroes of World War I named on the plaque at his feet. Some of the family names engraved there are those of our neighbors. Time and weather have chipped the brim of his hat, scarred his face, and pitted his uniform and Springfield rifle, but his wait is over.

The flagpole and its foundation are already in place thanks to the efforts of the Polk County Historical Association, the county board of commissioners, Columbus City Council, House of Flags, and the generosity of donors. And now, on this July 4, 2017, 100 years after Polk County men went off to the trenches, an honor guard will march, heart-felt words will be spoken, and the Doughboy’s flag will rise. This will be a 48-star flag, as it was in WWI, and will fly in memoriam hereafter.

There will be much to do in Columbus throughout the day starting at 10 a.m. including food and craft booths, entertainment, and fireworks to close the festivities. But, in the midst of it all, heed the lyrics of George M. Cohan’s patriotic song of 1917: “Hear them calling, you and me, every son of Liberty, hurry right away…over there, over there…”

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Rally ’round the Doughboy at noon for the inaugural flag raising and dedication. James Metcalf of the Polk County Historical Association Museum will reveal how the uncertain word “Doughboy” became an affectionate nickname for U.S. infantrymen. Alan Leonard, local historian and retired Air National Guard lieutenant colonel, will share the story of the school children championing the hand-made marble statue with fundraisers from 1920-25. He will also tell of the names on the pedestal, seven everyday folks who became soldiers to fight and die “Over There.”

Around the corner from the dedication, at 60 Walker Street, the Polk County Historical Association Museum will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a WWI exhibit and a special children’s program about historic toys.

Article submitted by Vincent Verrecchio