Community Celebrates New WWI Memorial in Duluth

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: August 03, 2019 11:23 PM

The City of Duluth hosted a special ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday to celebrate the new World War I memorial at Memorial Park.


The memorial was originally made in 1928 for the 22 West Duluthians who served and died in the war. At the time, there were 23 ash trees planted with small plaques that were engraved with the name of each soldier. They were placed on the foot of each tree. The 23rd marker was for the unknown war veteran who died. 

After many years, the memorial had damage. Local leaders and community members said it was time for an upgrade. In May, construction was started to renovate the memorial. The renovations included landscaping, a concrete slab, sidewalk work, and a flag pole.

“It's replacing all the trees and plaques that were in the park to start with. My grandma’s brother had a plaque in a tree. His name was Carl Peterson who died in World War I,” Jerry Liston, an attendee, said.

“We Will Remember Them” was engraved in the new memorial made out of Mesabi black granite. The message was also engraved in the hearts of everyone who witnessed the rebirth of the memorial.

“As long as I have memory, I will remember them all every day,” Dwight Nelson, a Vietnam War veteran, said.

Also engraved on the granite plaque are the names of the 22 soldiers who died in line of duty during the war along with Duluth’s 167 Gold Star men and women.

“Let us never forget that the freedom we have is not free. It is paid for every time one of our brave servicemen or women falls in battle,” Congressman Pete Stauber, said.

Members of the VFW and 148th Honor Guard kicked off the ceremony by presenting the colors and putting the American flag in the new flag pole at the park. 

“This was in effort led by the community and for the community,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, said.

The City of Duluth involved the community in the renovation process of the memorial. Now, community members say the memorial honors service members in a deserving way.

The project was funded through the City half and half tourism dollars as part of the larger St. Louis River Corridor Initiative to invest in public parks and trail improvements from Lincoln Park to the Fond du Lac neighborhood.

“It wasn't a functional memorial anymore. It turned out really wonderful and I’m glad the city was able to afford to be able to do this,” Liston said.

The memorial has a special significance to everyone.

“I grew up hearing World War I stories from my father, James Lloyd Murphy, who was in the Pierce County Wisconsin battalion at the end of the war in France,” Duluth DFL Rep. Mary Murphy, said.

Murphy represents district 3B, which includes Hermantown, Two Harbors, and townships north of Duluth.

Murphy was holding her father’s World War I helmet as she payed tribute to his memory and all those who sacrificed their lives during the war.

“The memorial means that as in every war, people sacrificed a lot, the people at home and the people who went to war,” Murphy said.

“It's just wonderful that we were able to after all this time remember and never forget,” Liston said.


Alejandra Palacios

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