Today is Veterans Day.
We celebrate November 11 because — 102 years ago today — World War I ended. The armistice took effect at 11 a.m., on 11/11.
Twelve years later — on November 11, 1930 — we dedicated our doughboy statue.
That was 5 years after the town voted to erect a monument to soldiers in “The Great War.” According to Woody Klein’s history of Westport, the commission was offered to Laura Gardin Fraser.
Yet her design — showing a bronze relief figure of Victory — did not meet the committee’s approval.
Three years later the Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion raised $10,000. They commissioned J. Clinton Shepherd, an illustrator, sculptor — and pilot — to memorialize a soldier from “the war to end all wars.”
Six months after Westport’s first-ever Memorial Day parade, the Doughboy was dedicated. But it was not at Veterans Green, across from what is now Town Hall (and was then Bedford Elementary School).
The original site was the grassy median on on the Post Road 2 miles east — across from what is now Shearwater Coffee, near the foot of Long Lots Road.
A crowd of 3,000 turned out for the dedication of the 20-ton statue. Governor John H. Trumbull was there, along with hundreds of veterans, and 7 bands. Children pulled ropes to unveil the statue.
The doughboy was moved to its present location in 1986. A formal re-dedication ceremony was held on Memorial Day 1988.