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Rose garden monuments will be restored

Vicksburg City Planning Director Wayne Mansfield points out grime on the monument to WWI soldier William Allein. (Sam Freeman The Vicksburg Post)

[6/9/04]The past 80 years have not been kind to the double-sided monument to Warren County residents who were killed during World War I.

The marble collected dirt and grime over the years and vandals or souvenir hunters have chipped away at the stone.

The campaign hat worn by the doughboy on the west face looks like some weird cap with a pinched crown. At one time, he was holding a Model 1903 Springfield rifle, but most of that has been broken off.

The sailor on the east face of the monument in the Municipal Rose Garden on Monroe Street, has fared much better and is virtually intact.

Still, the damage has been visible long enough, said Bryan Brabston, president of the Vicksburg Rotary Club.

The year 2005 is the centennial of the founding of Rotary by Chicago attorney Paul Harris and four of his business friends. To celebrate the anniversary, local Rotary Clubs were urged to take on a public works or civic project, Brabston said.

“When we got this about a year ago, I formed a search committee headed by Nelda Sampey … they came up with Why don’t you restore this monument?'” Brabston said.

Other members of the committee are club members Johnny Ferracci, Bill Nichols, Edley Jones and Howell Jones. Nichols, retired superintendent of the Vicksburg National Military Park, and David Clement, city architect, were the technical advisers.

Nichols and Clement advised the group they should not try to restore the monument to the way it appeared when dedicated in November 1923, Brabston said. Rather, they should strive to make it look like an 80-year-old monument that is still in good condition.

Monday, Brabston appeared before the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Vicksburg and received permission to proceed with the project.

“The next step now is to negotiate with a contractor,” Brabston said, adding the local club’s board of directors set a budget of $7,000 when it approved the project in May.

In addition to cleaning the whole monument and repairing the soldier’s hat, nose and rifle, the project will place a plaque on the monument saying the restoration was done by the Vicksburg Rotary Club.

“We also asked them to allow us to rededicate the monument on Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day,” Brabston said.

Although the monument was erected by the people of Vicksburg in 1923 in honor of 45 Warren County residents who died in World War I, the monument also specifically honors three of that number.

The sailor depicts William Thomas Gifford, a sailor and the first Warren countian to die in World War I. The soldier is William Allein. Henry Allein, William’s brother, is recalled by the World War biplane because he was a flier.