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Harrison Doughboy Soldier Statue Replaced By Veterans Day

Harrison's "Doughboy" World War I statue, which was blown off its stand and shattered on D-Day earlier this year, was replaced by Veterans' Day as promised by Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont.
Harrison's "Doughboy" World War I statue, which was blown off its stand and shattered on D-Day earlier this year, was replaced by Veterans' Day as promised by Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Harrison's so-called "Doughboy" soldier statue, as it looked this week after it was replaced.
Harrison's so-called "Doughboy" soldier statue, as it looked this week after it was replaced. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont stands next to the base of World War I monument in Ma Riis Park. The zinc statue broke at the ankles and shattered after being toppled by strong winds in June. It has been replaced with a bronze version.
Harrison Mayor Ron Belmont stands next to the base of World War I monument in Ma Riis Park. The zinc statue broke at the ankles and shattered after being toppled by strong winds in June. It has been replaced with a bronze version. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Harrison’s stalwart “Doughboy” is back at his post at the town’s Ma Riis Park.

The iconic World War I statue, felled by strong winds in June, was replaced just in time for Veterans Day, said Mayor Ron Belmont.

Ironically, the toppling occurred on the 72nd anniversary of D-Day.

The 5-foot-tall figure, known formally as the “Spirit of the American Doughboy,” was erected in 1939 by the Curtis Seaman Read VFW Post 3047 at the intersection of Harrison Avenue and Heineman Place.

The new statue was put up early Wednesday, Nov. 9. The unveiling was attended by a group of veterans, Belmont said.

When it was lifted by a crane onto its pedestal, the "expression on their faces just said it all," Belmont said, adding: "They were ecstatic."

As for Belmont, he was "thrilled."

"We got it done. I'm excited for the veterans. I'm excited for the town," the mayor said.

The mass-produced statue, based on the original version by Indiana sculptor E.M. Viquesney, was made of zinc, but copper-plated to make it look like bronze.

Zinc is a brittle metal and a structural weakness in the statue’s ankles has been blamed for its falling over.

The same thing happened to a "Doughboy" statue in Verona, Pa., in 2007, Belmont said. It, too, cracked at the ankles and shattered after it hit the ground. It was stored away for nearly seven years before being unearthed, repaired and returned to its rightful place.

According to doughboysearcher.weebly.com, Harrison's "Doughboy" had been cleaned as part of an Eagle Scout project in the early 1980s, but had later become pitted and covered with a whitish film.

It was restored and rededicated in 2004. At some point the soldier’s bayonet, went missing. The new statue comes complete with one.

Belmont told the Daily Voice earlier the town had taken $43,645 from its contingency fund to replace the statue.

Polich Tallix, a fine art foundry in Orange County’s Rock Tavern, was tasked with making a new statue.

Just by chance, the foundry happened to be working on the restoration of a Viquesney “Doughboy” statue from Bethel, Conn., a Tallix spokesperson said Wednesday.

Tallix made a rubber mold of the Bethel statue, and, using the lost wax method, then cast it in bronze.

One of the monument’s bronze plaques lists the names of seven Harrison residents who were killed in action and 11 others who died while serving in World War I.

The other two plaques have the names of residents who served during the war.

The origin of the term “doughboys” as it was applied to U.S. infantrymen during World War I is unclear. According to Wikipedia, one explanation is that female Salvation Army volunteers, who went to France to cook for the troops on the front line, made them millions of doughnuts.

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