This sculpture, erected in 1927, is one of the best-known outdoor sculptures in the nation. Named Spirit of the American Doughboy, it depicts a World War I soldier attacking across the "no man's land" between the trenches. Created in 1920 by Ernest Moore Viquesney, 130 Doughboys stand in thirty-five states.
Going over the top into no-man's land
The Doughboy holds a grenade in his upraised right hand
and a rifle in his left. His metal trench helmet is a reminder
of danger from the air. The gas mask on his belt recalls the
horrible mustard gas attacks that left many soldiers
disabled. The barbed wire around his feet represents
methods used to hinder attacks. He stands on a battle-torn,
shell-pitted surface supporting only blasted tree stumps.
The United States entered World War I on April 2, 1917,
nearly three years after it had begun. For Americans, the
war lasted 18 months. During that time, 1,946 men from
Phillips County served in the armed forces.
Soon after the war ended on November 11, 1918, the
Phillips County Memorial Association, Helena's American
Legion Post, and the Seven Generals Chapter of the United
Daughters of the Confederacy began raising the funds to
erect a monument honoring the county's World War I
veterans. The effort,
hindered by a poor economy and other
difficulties, took nine years.
The Dedication Ceremony
Finally, on July 10, 1927, as the waters of a devastating flood
receded, the Doughboy was unveiled in a lavish ceremony.
The Marianna military band provided the music and the
Boy Scouts acted as Marshals. Senator Joe T. Robinson,
Arkansas, delivered the address. The Helena World
reported that over 2,500 people watched as seven young
women representing the towns of Phillips County removed
the elaborate drapery to reveal the statue.
Left: Doughboys in the trenches
Middle: Doughboys marching along a road in France
Right: A World War I tank