CHICAGO (CBS) — The village of Morton Grove is honoring World War I veterans this weekend, as it rededicates a 96-year-old statue of a U.S. Army “doughboy.”
Since 1921, a bronze statue has stood as a silent tribute to Morton Grove residents who served in the First World War.
Now, after being exposed to rain, snow and lightning strikes for 96 years, it has been refurbished and the community plans a party Sunday.
The statue depicts a “doughboy,” or WWI infantryman, brandishing a rifle, with a knife sheathed on his belt and a pack on his back. The statue never moved until the current renovation, despite massive changes around it, not the least of which was construction of the community’s library in 1952.
“It had been outside since 1921, always in the same spot. In fact, the library that’s behind it in Morton Grove actually wasn’t built until 30 years after the statue was there. So it has been out in the elements for now almost close to 100 years,” Morton Grove Historical Society president Mark Matz said.
Built for the long-gone Women’s War Working Circle, and designed by Chicago sculptor and architect Hugh A. Price, it has been under the care of the Morton Grove Historical Society for decades.
Matz said its plaques had rusted and become unreadable, and its concrete pedestal was crumbling.
“At first we thought we’d do a simple patch job and we brought in the professionals to help us,” Matz said. “They said no, this needs a major reconstruction.”
Fundraising was done in the community, through American Legion Post 134 and its auxiliary as well as through a crowdfunding campaign.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin was set to deliver the keynote address during the ceremony at 6148 Dempster St. Suffredin is a retired U.S. Air Force captain, and his grandfather was a doughboy.
“Following that ceremony, we open up an exhibit at our museum called ‘Illinois and Morton Grove and the Great War: What Happened Before The Doughboy Arrived,’ an exhibit of global artifacts and history, much centering around the people from Morton Grove who served,” Matz said.
The exhibit includes the full uniform of one of the 43 Morton Grove residents who served in World War I, information on all 43 men and copies of their draft cards, period artifacts, and more.