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Montgomery dedicates monument to Alabama's WWI soldiers

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Aug 2017 11:55    Onderwerp: Montgomery dedicates monument to Alabama's WWI soldiers Reageer met quote

One hundred years after Alabama National Guard troops boarded eight trains to New York on their way to the battlefields of France, officials in Montgomery dedicated a bronze monument in their honor.

Descendants of the World War I soldiers joined hundreds of people on Monday to watch the unveiling ceremony at Union Station, point of departure for 3,677 Alabama soldiers on Aug. 28, 1917.

The soldiers became the 167th U.S. Infantry of the 42nd Rainbow Division and distinguished themselves in pivotal battles in Europe. Their casualties were heavy, with 616 men killed in action and more than 1,000 wounded.

In May 1919, about 1,600 survivors of 167th returned to Alabama as heroes, celebrated with parades in Huntsville, Athens, Anniston, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.

"The state has never seen anything like it before or since," said Nimrod Frazer of Montgomery, a Korean war veteran and Montgomery civic leader who commissioned the monument, a gift to the City of Montgomery from the Croix Rouge Memorial Foundation.

"Newspapers throughout the state called these people 'the immortals,' " Frazer said. "Their lives were never the same again. They were different. They had gone from being Confederates to citizens of the world."

Frazer is author of "Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division."

Descendants of the soldiers gathered around the monument to pose for photographs after today's dedication.

Cynthia Davison Price of Montgomery was there, along with her father, Gene Davison and son, Eric Price. Cynthia's grandfather, Joseph Leslie Davison, from the south Alabama community of Canoe, near Atmore, was one of the men who boarded a train in Union Station a century ago. He died in 1990 at age 96.

Cynthia said she never heard her grandfather talk about his war experiences.

"I knew he was in World War I but never really understood about it until the city began to promote that this was fixing to happen and I began to read about it and understand what my granddad did, the sacrifice he made," she said. "And to think that he left a farm, didn't know anything about the world, and was shipped all the way to New York and then to France and then made the journey around the war is amazing," Cynthia said. "It is long overdue and it really seals for generations what their family members gave, especially those who sacrificed their lives."

A plaque on the monument bears the words of Gen. Douglas McArthur praising the courage of the 167th and its sister regiment, the 168th of Iowa, in key conflicts, including the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm, where they fought alongside the French and against the Germans.

"Two battalions of the 167th Infantry assisted by the 168th Infantry on the left, with the greatest courage and most severe losses, seized Croix Rouge Farm on the point of the bayonet," McArthur wrote. "The unexpectedness and violence, and the difficulty of this vital operation cannot be overestimated; the gallantry and courage of the assaulting troops has never been excelled in the Rainbow's history."

The bronze statue, designed by British sculptor James Butler, depicts a soldier carrying a fallen comrade. It is the second casting of the design. The other stands in France on the site of the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm.

"It's nice to be recognized," Gene Davison said, standing near the monument honoring his father and the other Alabama soldiers. "It's probably overdue."

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/08/montgomery_dedicates_monument.html
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