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Herrin Doughboy: A moving tribute

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Every year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, townspeople gather around the Herrin Doughboy on the corner of North Park Avenue and Adams Street to pay tribute to those who have fought and died for their country.

The Spirit of the American Doughboy statue, a World War I memorial statue, was dedicated Sept. 6, 1927, in the center of the intersection of Park Avenue and Monroe streets. Local veterans groups worked together on the project.

Because of an ever-increasing flow of traffic into the city, the statue and its majestic base moved in 1956 to a temporary location near Herrin American Legion on East Madison Street. And, in 1964, it was moved to Herrin City Park and rededicated three years later.

In 2002, the traveling soldier made his way home -- back to the center of downtown Herrin. And, as Mayor Vic Ritter exclaimed, that is "right where it should be."

The bronze statue and marble base, which together weighs about 25 tons, depicts a World War 1 infantryman with a rifle in one hand and grenade in the other -- forever memorialized in his war garb and deportment.

The state of Illinois originally had six Doughboy statues. The one at Lincoln Park in Chicago is now gone. In addition to Herrin, the others are in Alton, Soldier Field in Chicago, Columbia and Naperville.


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