Veterans Day – Doughboy Statue Honored – Ft. Missoula Service
As the snow swirled around the Doughboy ‘Over the Top to Victory’ Statue, a small group of veterans and officials gathered on Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier spoke of the importance of the refurbished and repositioned statue, as the Bells of Peace tolled at the Missoula County Courthouse.
“As a steward of Missoula County heritage, the Missoula County Commissioners can today rededicate this statue, not only to those who gave their lives in World War I from Missoula County, but also to all veterans who have served,” said Strohmaier. “Not only is this the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, but it’s also the 91st anniversary of this monument being erected.”
The statue, located on the front lawn of the Missoula County Courthouse, was excavated over the summer, cleaned up and repositioned to be more accessible to those in wheelchairs.
Following the Doughboy Statue ceremony, there was another Veterans Day gathering at Heritage Hall at Fort Missoula, featuring Major General Matthew Quinn of the U.S. Army National Guard, who spoke of the history of the U.S. Army from it’s beginning in World War I until the present.
“In 1916, America was not sure about established a standing national army and se we really had to gin up a lot of soldiers to help our fellow soldiers over in Europe,” said Maj. General Quinn. “My own grandfather was in World War I after enlisting in the North Dakota National Guard and was drafted for service overseas.”
Quinn cast forward from World War I until the present.
“The Army of today is based upon the successes of all the soldiers who have served in the U.S. Army in the past, both men and women, who have served in every conflict they’ve been called to,” he said. “I think the most professional force we have in the world today is the U.S. Army, as well as all our other armed forces, and that’s all borne on the backs of those who have served before us.”
Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, himself a military veteran, was on hand to speak at Heritage Hall, and made a surprising revelation about Montana’s governing officials.
“There was a time when most elected leaders were former members of the military, but now, I’m the last one in the whole state,” said Stapleton. “It’s a great honor, and when we speak about those from a hundred years ago and we honor those who fought to make the world safe for democracy.”
Stapleton said there’s something humbling about serving in the military that helped prepare him for political office.
“When you go through boot camp and you’re torn down to nothing and they build you back up again, and you realize you’re no better or worse than anyone else around you, that helps you a lot in public service,” said Stapleton. “There are times when what you do is thankless, and you have to do the right thing even when nobody’s watching.”
The ‘Bells of Peace’ tolled throughout Missoula at 11:11 a.m. on Sunday to commemorate the event.