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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    World War Two and Veterans Memorial, Belmont

  • Type

    Common Soldier Statue

  • Subjects

    World War II

    Veterans of Multiple Wars

  • Creator

    E. M. Viquesney, Sculptor

  • City

    Belmont

  • County

    Gaston

  • Description

    The 1946 monument is copper-plated zinc casting of a life-sized World War II soldier in combat gear. He leans forward, seemingly preparing to hurl the grenade he holds in his proper right hand. The left hand is holding a Thompson submachine gun. The sculpture rests atop a seven feet high tiered granite plinth bearing an incised inscription on the front face along with bronze plaques on the front and back. The memorial rests on a pavilion created of brick pavers and a stone retaining wall with a long brick paver walkway leading from the sidewalk. An iron fence protects the sculpture. Next to the walkway near the sidewalk is a plaque detailing the monument’s history. The monument was relocated from the Old Belmont High School to Stowe Park in 1914 to form the centerpiece for a new veterans memorial.

    Images: Front plaque | Rear plaque | Sculptor plaque | Walkway plaque | Far-off view | Side far-off view

  • Inscription

    Incised front: ERECTED IN HONOR OF / ALL WHO SERVED IN WORLD WAR II / AND DEDICATED TO / THE LASTING MEMORY OF THOSE / WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES.

    Front plaque: “LEAST WE FORGET” / THIS MONUMENT IS DEDICATED TO THOSE / WHO HAVE HONORABLY SERVED IN THE / ARMED FORCES OF THE / UNITED STATES OF AMERICAN / 2014

    Rear Plaque: ERECTED BY THE CITIZENS OF BELMONT / SPONSORED BY THE / JUNIOR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

    Walkway plaque: THE MONUMENT STORY / THE SPIRIT OF THE FIGHTING YANK STANDS / AS THE CENTERPIECE OF THIS NEW VETERANS / MONUMENT. FOR 68 YEARS IT STOOD PROUDLY / ON THE GROUNDS OF THE OLD BELMONT HIGH / SCHOOL. IT IS ONE OF ONLY FIVE OF ITS KIND / EVER CAST, A FITTING TRIBUTE TO THE / AMERICAN VETERANS OF WWII. IN 2014, / “THE YANK” WAS MOVED TO THIS NEW SITE / WHICH HONORS ALL MILITARY SERVICE / PERSONNEL. THE CITIZENS EXPRESS / GRATITUDE TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE / U.S. FOR THEIR DEDICATED SERVICE.

  • Custodian

    City of Belmont

  • Dedication Date

    The statue was dedicated in November 1946. Re-dedication: 2014-10-04

  • Decade

    1940s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.241040 , -81.041900 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Conservation Solutions, Inc. "Project Overview | The Spirit of the Fighting Yank Sculpture Restoration," Projects, (accessed April 9, 2013) Link

      Cox Media Group. "Three arrested for vandalism of World War II statue," wsoctv.com, last updated February 9, 2012, (accessed April 9, 2013) Link

      DePriest, Joe.“Gov. McCrory Coming To Belmont For Rededication Of sculpture ‘The Spirit of the Fighting Yank’,” Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC) October 3, 2014, (accessed March 29, 2016) Link

      Gaston County Schools. "The Spirit of the Fighting Yank," News, (accessed April 10, 2013) Link

      Gaston County Schools. "World War II statue returns to Belmont Middle," Gaston County Schools, July 18, 2012, (accessed April 19, 2013) Link

      Grissom, Carol A. 2009. Zinc sculpture in America 1850-1950. Newark: University of Delaware Press. 549

      Hodge, Alan. “Gov. McCrory Praises Belmont’s Commitment To Area Veterans,” Banner News (Belmont, NC) October 8, 2014, (accessed March 29, 2016) Link

      Time Warner Cable Enterprises LLC. "Teens confess to vandalized WWII memorial in front of Belmont School," News14Carolina.com, February 10, 2012, (accessed April 9, 2013) Link

      WBTV Web Staff. "Belmont approves moving war memorial to city park," WBTV, 6 August, 2013. Link

      Waymarking.com. "World War II Memorial - Belmont, NC," (accessed April 9, 2013) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    The monument is composed of a copper-plated zinc statue resting atop a granite plinth. Restoration of the broken head utilized copper-plated zinc and required painting to match the patina of the existing statue.

  • Monument Cost

    2014 Pavilion construction and statue relocation: $65,000

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    2014 re-dedication and unveiling. During the 2014 re-dedication ceremony, a Pearl Harbor survivor Gene Reinhardt and Korean War veteran Jim Reeves pulled off the cloth covering the Yank while a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace”. The event drew a large crowd and included a speech by N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, music, flag waving, and a “ton of patriotism.”

  • Nickname

    "Spirit of the Fighting Yank"

  • Subject Notes

    In July of 2011, the statue was vandalized and toppled and the head stolen. Three teenage boys from Mt. Holly were subsequently arrested and confessed to the crime, admitting that they had taken the statue's head and thrown it in Dutchman Creek in Mt. Holly. The head was recovered from the creek by divers from the Gastonia Police Department. It was badly damaged and required restoration which was completed by Conservation Solutions, Inc. at a cost of $30,000. Insurance and donations funded the restoration, and the monument was re-installed in front of the middle school.

    The "Spirit of the Fighting Yank" sculpture in Belmont is one of four, or possibly five, created by E. M. Viquesney in the 1940s. Four others are installed in Chicago, Illinois, Port Huron Michigan, and Oil City, Pennsylvania. Viquesney mass-produced statues and corresponding collectible miniatures from the 1920s to the 1940s, with the World War I Doughboy becoming perhaps his most well-known creation and securing his renown as a sculptor of World War I and World War II soldier figures. See Spirit of the American Doughboy in Nashville and Spirit of the American Doughboy in Charlotte.

  • Location

    The statue is located at Stowe Park, 24 S. Main Street in Belmont, NC.

  • Landscape

    The memorial stands in the park, surrounded by trees and seasonal plants.

  • Former Locations

    The monument was originally placed in front of the old Belmont High School (later Belmont Middle School) at the corner of North Central Avenue and West Myrtle Street.

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