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Georgia Historical Society Dedicates New Historical Marker For the Visquesney “Spirit of the American Doughboy” Sculpture

May 11, 2021, Atlanta, Georgia – The Georgia Historical Society has announced the unveiling of a new historical marker in Berrien County commemorating the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” sculpture in Nashville, Georgia.

“One hundred years ago, when this imposing monument and sculpture were installed at this intersection, every family in Berrien County knew exactly the circumstances around its creation. Their hearts were still aching from the terrible loss of their loved ones and they wanted to cast in stone this pledge to those victims—this memorial is to you ‘Lest We Forget,’” said Bryan Shaw, President of the Berrien Historical Foundation. “Over the decades their story and memory has greatly faded and been nearly lost. But this magnificent historical marker is a reminder for all who pass by and read it that they will know why those names are inscribed on that monument. And perhaps once again, they will renew that pledge — ‘Lest We Forget.’”

Berrien County commissioned the first Doughboy statue to honor the Berrien County soldiers who died in World War I and who lost their lives during the sinking of the troopship the HMS Otranto. Sculpted by Ernest Moore Viquesney, a resident of Americus, Georgia, the statue was praised for its lifelike portrayal of American soldiers during World War I. The marker is located in downtown Nashville, on the city square across from the county courthouse and near the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” statue.

Speakers for the dedication included Brian L. Shaw, President, Berrien Historical Foundation; Max Hancock, descendant of one of the soldiers killed in the sinking of the HMS Otranto; and Jane Stallings Knight, a retired teacher. The marker was unveiled by former Judge Susan Webb Griner, whose great-uncle also perished on the HMS Otranto and read by her daughter, Suzan Garnett. The Worth County High School JROTC from Sylvester, Georgia, presented the colors and Skeeter Parker played taps as a wreath was laid by Floye Luke, Regent General, James Jackson Chapter of National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

For further information about the “Spirit of the American Doughboy” historical marker or the Georgia Historical Marker Program, please contact Patricia Meagher, GHS Director of Communications at 912.651.2125, ext. 153 or by email at pmeagher@georgiahistory.com.

The marker reads as follows:

“Spirit of the American Doughboy”

Following the United States’ entry into World War I (1917-1918), more than 100,000 Georgians were involved in the war effort, with the state suffering over 1,000 casualties. The rural community of Berrien County experienced an extraordinarily high rate of loss, particularly in the 1918 sinking of the troopship HMS Otranto, the greatest maritime disaster of the war. Answering President Woodrow Wilson’s call to honor those who died in the war, Berrien County commissioned the first Doughboy statue sculpted by Americus, Georgia, resident Ernest Moore Viquesney. Completed in 1921, the statue was unveiled in 1923 when the community raised the funds to acquire and install it. Known as “The Spirit of the American Doughboy,” the design was replicated all over the country to memorialize soldiers lost during World War I.

Erected by the Georgia Historical Society and the Berrien Historical Foundation

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ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL MARKER PROGRAM
The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) administers Georgia’s historical marker program. Over the past 20 years, GHS has erected nearly 300 new historical markers across the state on a wide variety of subjects. GHS also coordinates the maintenance for more than 2,100 markers installed by the State of Georgia prior to 1998. Online mapping tools allow users to design driving routes based on historical markers, and a mobile app helps visitors locate and learn about markers nearby. Visit georgiahistory.com for more ways to use Georgia’s historical markers and experience history where it happened.


ABOUT THE GEORGIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
To learn more visit georgiahistory.com.