Vet Voices

Wheeling’s Memorial Day Ceremony brings to life the reverence of WWI heroes

Countdown to the 4th of July
July 04 2021 08:00 pm

WHEELING PARK, W.Va. (WTRF) — It was a change of scenery for Wheeling’s Memorial Day Service as residents gathered in Wheeling Park instead of Heritage Port.

The “Spirit of the American Doughboy Monument” was rededicated.

Back in 1931, I was very young. My mom dressed me up and said come on, we’re going to hear your dad talk. 

Joseph Gompers, Son of veteran who dedicated the Doughboy

Five-year-old Joseph Gompers at the time watched his father, William Gompers, dedicate the original doughboy monument. Joseph says near 3,000 people flocked by trolley to Wheeling to see the statue and all it embodies. 

“I always admired him and respected him so much for what he and the rest of them did in World War One,” said Gompers.

Now, 90 years and one day later at the rededication ceremony, a crowd gathered: (not necessarily 3,000) but enough to fill part of Wheeling Park. With the American Legion Post 1, Wheeling leaders, like veteran and senator Ryan Weld, acknowledged the rarity of this World War One monument.

Young generations also saw heroes in a new light. Two Boy Scouts played the part as doughboys. 

An honor to be here.

It means to fight for our country, whatever it takes.

David Bradney, Troop 6 and Patrick Mcgue, Doughboy mascot, son of veteran

One decade after this doughboy monument was dedicated under the ‘War to End All Wars,’ American citizens were called back to war to fight again for their country, and then again, and again. 

The statue stands as a reminder to many veterans in the audience that freedom is not a new concept. It’s a lesson to everyone that the same freedom, indeed, does not come free. 

“It makes me think of the generations that come before and that although the times may be different, our hearts aren’t.” 

Patrick Mcgue, Airforce veteran and dad

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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