Utah Legion leads effort to rededicate doughboy statue

Utah Legion leads effort to rededicate doughboy statue

An iconic World War I doughboy statue in Ogden, Utah, has been refurbished just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The statue, sculpted by Gilbert P. Risvold, was dedicated in the 1920s. Previously it stood on the balcony of American Legion Baker Merrill Post 9; however, it was moved to the Ogden City Cemetery shortly after World War II.

Since then the memorial — the state’s first doughboy statue — had fallen into disrepair due to vandalism and weather.

The statue had been spray-painted, and the soldier’s gun was bent when vandals tried to remove it. The monument’s original helmet and the bolt on the soldier’s replica 1903 Springfield rifle were both stolen.

But now, thanks to the Department of Utah and other civic groups, the statue has been refurbished.

“We felt a lot of responsibility and pride for that monument because we were one of the original owners,” said American Legion National Executive Committeeman Terry Schow, who has seen the updated statue. “It’s most impressive. We’re preserving a piece of history.”

At Schow’s insistence, The American Legion emblem is displayed on the reworked monument.

The department assisted with grant operations as well as outreach with potential affiliates from the corporate world, state government and civic groups such as historic societies and museums.

Schow, a member of Post 9, worked with the Weber County Historical Society to gather support to fix the statue and obtain a grant from the Pritzker Military Museum and Library. Additionally, Ogden-area businesses, government agencies, civic organizations and others helped make the project a reality.

The statue had been temporarily relocated so Adonis Bronze could work on it. The company stripped, cleaned and repaired the bronze while also replacing the lost helmet and rifle bolt. A new concrete dais was installed as a fence to protect the doughboy.

Schow is pleased that the statue’s rededication will meet the goal he set several years ago.

A celebration of the restoration is planned for Nov. 10 at the cemetery, as part of the National World War I Centennial. It is part of the official 100 “WWI Centennial Memorials” across the United States.

“We have to remember the wisdom of The American Legion folks back in the 1920s who had the foresight to erect this statue,” Schow concluded. “We have been able to preserve that legacy by participating with the historical society to get it refurbished and help people remember those who served in World War I.”