Paragould War Memorial
According to American Legion records, 476 Greene County men served in the U.S. military during World War I, and forty men died while in service. In the 1920s, the people of the county decided to honor them with a memorial at the Greene County Courthouse in Paragould. A public effort raised $2,000 to pay for the monument. They chose a Statue of Liberty replica copyrighted by Chicago, Illinois, sculptor John Paulding as the centerpiece of their memorial, perhaps eschewing the sculptor’s doughboy-style Over the Top design because it had already been used in the Craighead County World War I memorial established in nearby Jonesboro in 1920.
The Paragould War Memorial was unveiled on Armistice Day, November 11, 1924, on the northeastern corner of the Greene County Courthouse lawn. Around 5,000 people attended the event, with businesses closing and patriotic decorations adorning buildings throughout town. The dedication began with an elaborate parade through the city that included the mayor, mounted police officers, the senior band, and, according to the Paragould Soliphone, “veterans of the World War, labor organizations, gold star mothers and fathers, DeMolays, Rainbow girls, Boy Scouts, junior band, school children, and several floats.” The principal speaker of the day was Harry L. Ponder of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), a former state senator, who reviewed past wars, praised the spirit of the county’s soldiers, and explained that “this memorial is an outstanding page in the history of Greene County and an honor to those who gave their lives on foreign soil and a reminder to the gold star mothers and fathers that their sons died for a worthy cause,” adding that the memorial would serve “to keep the spirit before the children of the present and future generations and to do honor [to] those who made the supreme sacrifice.” Members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the American Legion Auxiliary served lunch after the ceremony.
The Paragould War Memorial features a seven-and-a-half-foot Statue of Liberty replica atop a six-and-a-half-foot marble base. The front of the base is inscribed “LET US HOLD IN HONORED / MEMORY THOSE MEN FROM / GREENE COUNTY WHO GAVE / THEIR LIVES THAT MANKIND / MIGHT HOPE FOR A BETTER WORLD.” The back side features the words “TO THE MEN OF GREENE COUNTY / WHO SERVED IN THE WORLD WAR / AND IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO / MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE / 1917–1918,” followed by a list of the forty Greene County residents who did not survive the war. Two wings were added to the memorial following World War II, with the one on the east repeating the names of the Great War casualties and the western wing listing the seventy-eight Greene County men who died in World War II. The back side of that wing also includes the names of two Korean War and twelve Vietnam casualties from the county.
The Paragould War Memorial was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1997.
For additional information:
Hainsborough, Vivian. History of Greene County, Arkansas. Little Rock: Democrat Printing and Lithography, 1946.
Mueller, Myrl Rhine. A History of Greene County, Arkansas. Little Rock: Parkhurst Book Design, 1984.
“Paragould and Greene County Turn Out to Honor Veterans; Soldier Memorial Unveiled.” Paragould Soliphone, November 12, 1924, p. 1.
Polston, Michael D., and Guy Lancaster, eds. To Can the Kaiser: Arkansas and the Great War. Little Rock: Butler Center Books, 2015.
Slater, John. “Paragould War Memorial.” National Register of Historic Places nomination form. On file at Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Little Rock, Arkansas. Online at found at http://www.arkansaspreservation.com/National-Register-Listings/PDF/GE0052S.nr.pdf (accessed November 30, 2018).
Mark K. Christ
Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Last Updated: 11/30/2018