New Hanover County World War One Memorial, Wilmington
Joseph Maxwell Miller, Sculptor
J. Arthur Limerick Company, Baltimore, Maryland, Foundry
W. Gordon Beecher, Baltimore Maryland, Architect
The memorial is an upright stone stele twelve feet high containing an inset bronze panel almost
seven feet tall. The panel depicts a female warrior in low relief wearing a close-fitting helmet
with eagle on top, robes and cape, and clasping a shield with the proper left hand. The shield
tip rests on ground next to proper left foot. The warrior holds sprigs of laurel against her breast
with the right hand and gazes ahead with a solemn expression on her face. Inscriptions to
include the names of 37 men who died during war service appear on the shield. The word
“colored” is used to segregate the names of three African American at the bottom of the list of
The inscription on the stele’s front, "Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori" is a line from Roman poet Horace's odes, roughly translated as "It is sweet and fitting to die for your country." The poem inscribed on the back was written by a local physician, Dr. James Sprunt. This inscription ends with four lines in quotation marks from Theodore O'Hara's elegiac poem, "Bivouac of the Dead."
Bas-relief: VALOR VICTORY / PATRIOTISM CHARITY
GREATER LOVE / HATH NO MAN THAN THIS / THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE / FOR HIS FRIENDS / THOMAS F. BAGLEY, JR. / ARCHIE BEACH / JASPER LEON BEST / ARTHUR BLUETHENTHAL / WALTER S. BROCK / WILLIAM MCDUFFUE BUNTING / THOMAS B. CAROL * JAMES H. COLLINS / WARREN GREGORY DAVIS / EDWARD JAMES FOX * JAMES GLASS / JOHN VICTOR GRAINGER, JR. / ARTHUR HEWLITT * JOSEPH HOLLAND / BENNIE KING * JAMES CRAIG LODOP / DAVID WORTH LORING / JOSEPH J. LOUGHLIN / COLIN MAKEPEACE MCRAE / LOREN FENNIE MASON / ARCHIE H. MELTON * H. TATE MOORE / SIDNEY BAXTER ORNE / HARRY E. ORRELL / DOUGLAS W. PATE / GORDON ORTHNEAL PERRY / HARRY POTTER * HARRY F. SHAW / THEORDORE S. SIDBURY / VAUGHAN E. SMITH / GEORGE SUMMERLIN / WILLIE M. TURNER / LEWIS P. VANN / FRANK LENOX WILLIAMS / -COLORED- / THOMAS S. BULLOCK / SIMON TAFT SHIVER / EDWARD PEDEN
IN UNDYING MEMORY OF NEW HANOVER COUNTY'S / SACRIFICE OF NOBLE SONS IN CAUSE OF / LIBERTY AND HUMANITY IN THE GREAT WAR 1917-1918 Front, below bas-relief: DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI
Rear: THESE NEW HANOVER COUNTY / MEN WHOSE NAMES WE PERPETU- / ATE BY THIS MONUMENT WERE / NUMBERED THOSE CHOICE / SPIRITS WHO AT THEIR COUNTRY’S / CALL IN THE GREAT WORLD WAR / LEFT ALL THAT WAS DEAR TO / THEM, ENDURING HARDNESS, FACED / DANGER AND FINALLY PASSED OUT /OF SITE OF MEN BY THE / PATH OF DUTY AND SELF SACRIFICE / IN PRISON, IN HOSPITAL, ON THE / BATTLE FIELD, ON HOSTILE SEAS, / IN UNCHARTED REALMS OF AIR. / THEY FOUND SUPPORT AND CON- / SOLATION IN THE BELIEF THAT / THEY WOULD NOT BE FORGOTTEN / “ON FLAMES ETERNAL CAMPING GROUND / THEIR SILENT TENTS ARE SPREAD, / AND GLORY GUARDS WITH SOLEMN BOND / THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD.” / 1914 1918 / A.D.
City of Wilmington
May 30, 1922. Re-dedication: November 11, 2014
34.237650 , -77.950230 View in Geobrowse
"High School, Wilmington, N.C. " in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill Link
Davidson, Janet. “After the Dedication, 1923 to March, 2014,” Cape Fear Historian, http://capefearhistorian.blogspot.com, November 8, 2014, (accessed February 24, 2016) Link
Davidson, Janet. “Memorializing World War I, part 1,” Cape Fear Historian, October 28, 2014, (accessed February 17, 2016) Link
Davidson, Janet. “Memorializing World War I, part 2,” Cape Fear Historian, http://capefearhistorian.blogspot.com, November 10, 2014, (accessed February 17, 2016) Link
Jones, Jr., Wilbur D. “World War I Memorial To Be Refurbished, Moved,” StarNews Online, http://www.starnewsonline.com, August 26, 2014, (accessed February 19, 2016) Link
Spiers, Jonathan. "WWI memorial relocated, rededicated in Veterans Day ceremony," PortCityDaily.com, http://portcitydaily.com, November 11, 2014 , (accessed February 24, 2016) Link
“Monument Is Placed For Unveiling Soon”, The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), May 26, 1922, 12
“Program Announced For Memorial Event,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), May 17, 1922, 12
“Wilmington And New Hanover Unite In Paying Tribute To Memory Of World War Dead,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), May 31, 1922, 1,2
“Wilmington To Pay Tribute To World War Dead In Fine Exercises Here Tomorrow,” The Wilmington Morning Star (Wilmington, NC), May 29, 1922, 8
“World War I Memorial, (sculpture),” Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, (accessed February 19, 2016) Link
$6,000. Approximately $15,000 for 2014 move and restoration.
The World War Monument on Market Street, at 13th, was dedicated on Decoration Day, May 30, 1922. The festivities began with a concert on American Legion lawn and the decorating of graves by
the Legion post’s Women’s Auxiliary. A parade was then formed and moved to the monument
site. The ceremony opened with a prayer and the singing of “America” before being presented
to New Hanover county and unveiled by children of deceased servicemen. Mayor James Cowen
then introduced the day's featured speaker, U.S. Senator Pat Harrison of Mississippi. After the
address by Senator Harrison a squad from the Wilmington Light Infantry fired a salute over the
monument and taps played to end the ceremony.
For the 2014 rededication World War One historians were the featured speakers: Dr. Janet Davidson of the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, Dr. Taylor fain of the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Sion Harrington, formerly of the N.C. Office of Archives and History made presentations. Speeches were also made by politicians, including Mayor Bill Saffo, County Commissioner Woody White, and U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre.
The memorial was described by newspaper articles of the time as “a structure of artistic
grandeur,” and one of the prettiest pieces of work in the entire country.” It is a unique piece of
work which gives credit to these claims. Most memorials erected to World War One dead were
of a cookie cutter or mass produced variety. Often they were simply slabs of stone or metal
with names of the dead or those who served although Memorial drinking fountains were also
popular at the time. There were few attempts in North Carolina to use commissioned pieces of
art in World War One memorials. Several statues were placed but the best of those were the
mass produced “Spirit of the American” Doughboy.
Before moving to the high school grounds the memorial was hit by cars at least twice. In 1923, one of these accidents broke the stone in two, requiring replacement.
The monument stands at a small city park on the Riverwalk that runs 1.8 miles along the Cape Fear River in the old historic part of the city. The park is adjacent to and north of where the United States Coast Guard Cutter “Diligence” docks.
The memorial stands on the grass surrounded by bushes and shady trees.
For more than 50 years, the memorial sat at Market and 13th streets, in the median of the main thoroughfare through town at New Hanover High School. In 1973, due to the construction of an overpass, the memorial was moved and placed in front of the school. In early 2014, a group of people gathered to explore the idea of restoring, cleaning, and moving the memorial to the Riverfront which was accomplished later that year. The re-dedication took place on November 11, 2014.