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Eagle Scout beautifies spot where iconic Doughboy statue stands

A new look for Petersburg's ‘Old Soldier’ 

By Kristi K. Higgins
via the Progress Index (Petersburg, VA) newspaper web site

Petersburg VA DoughboyNicholas Riggs (left) receives a certificate of recognition from Petersburg Mayor Samuel Parham for his Eagle Scout work sprucing up the area of the Doughboy monument on South Sycamore Street. PETERSBURG — The road to Nicholas Riggs’ Eagle Scout designation includes a stretch of South Sycamore Street known for its iconic Doughboy statue.

Riggs, a member of Scout Troop 900 in Prince George County, formally unveiled his Eagle Scout project last weekend. It was a makeover of the Doughboy triangle at the intersection of Sycamore and North Boulevard that included reseeding, weeding, and other general maintenance, and was topped off with a new stone bench and 25-foot flagpole.

He hosted a rededication ceremony at the World War I memorial and also presented the city of Petersburg with a check in excess of $1,000 from donations he raised for the project.

“It is with great pride and pleasure that I received more than enough donations for the project to be used for ongoing maintenance of the Doughboy Memorial Park,” Riggs said in handing the check to Mayor Sam Parham.

The copper-colored statue, officially known as “The Spirit of the American Doughboy” but also informally dubbed the “Old Soldier,” has stood its ground since 1928, when it was presented to Petersburg by the American Legion. It honors the memory of World War I soldiers who were called “doughboys” becaise the rain-soaked mud of Europe often covered their uniforms like bread dough.

It is one of a series of doughboy statues in 39 states designed by sculptor E.M. Viquesney. Its last renovation was in 1997.

On the statue’s base are the names of 91 area World War I veterans who died in service.

On the new bench next to the new flag, Riggs had the following inscribed: “This flag and bench have been dedicated in lasting gratitude to all the men and women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America during World War I with honor and sacrifice.”

Members of American Legion Post 2 in Petersburg were on hand for Riggs’ ceremony. Post commander Mark Winecoff saluted the young man for his undertaking.

“After 91 years on duty the Old Soldier started showing his age,” Winecoff said. “A young Scout, looking for an Eagle Scout Service Project, took notice and decided to do something about it. Not for personal recognition did he do this, but rather out of a sense of obligation and service to his community."

Read the entire article on the Progress Index web site here:

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