This bronze sculpture, entitled Return from the Argonne by British sculptor James Butler, RA, was dedicated on November 11, 2021 in front of the City of Montgomery's Union Station.
The Return from the Argonne complements The Rainbow Soldier, another bronze sculpture from James Butler dedicated in August 2017, which remembers specifically the legacy of the 167th U.S. Infantry Regiment of the famous 42nd Rainbow Division, and their contributions in multiple battles that were vital to winning the war. Known as “The Immortals,” these heroic soldiers, many of who made the ultimate sacrifice, were revered for their unwavering courage in the face of unrelenting enemy attack. Their bravery in fighting alongside the French at the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm helped push back the Germans at the Ourcq River, one of the most critical points of the war.
The Rainbow Soldier was gifted to the City of Montgomery by the Croix Rouge Farm Memorial Foundation through the generosity of longtime community and business leader Nimrod T. Frazer, Silver Star. It was originally commissioned in 2011 at the Croix Rouge Farm, located to the south of the French city of Fère-en-Tardenois on the site of the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm; the Montgomery sculpture is a second casting of the one in France.
It was from this very same Victorian Railroad station that the soldiers from Alabama departed for France in August 1917 and where they returned in May 1919. The Return from the Argonne memorializes these soldiers, as well as all Alabamians who fought in the Meuse Argonne campaign, specifically the African American soldiers from the 366th Infantry in the 92nd division, the majority of whom called Alabama home.
Another Alabama native son, the famous band leader James Reese Europe, from Mobile, also served in the Argonne. He led the military band of the 369th regiment (Harlem Hell Fighters) which brought jazz to Europe.