Documenting the American South

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

    Fallen Soldier Memorial, Greenville

  • Type


  • Subjects

    Veterans of Multiple Wars

  • Creator

    Richard Rist, Baltimore, MD, Sculptor

  • City


  • County


  • Description

    The Fallen Soldier Monument to the more than 200 Pitt County soldiers who died in service to their country is a type of military memorial commonly called a “Battle Cross.” Made of bronze, it’s comprised of a pair of military boots and an upright assault style rifle with a Kevlar helmet hanging on the rifle’s stock. The base is two piece with the upper section on which the boots stand in bronze and the lower section is granite.

  • Inscription


  • Custodian

    Greenville City Recreation and Parks

  • Dedication Date

    November 30, 2015

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.615330 , -77.371940 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Golden, Kathleen. “The Battlefield Cross,” Smithsonian, May 21, 2015, (accessed August 16, 2016) Link

      “Recreation And Park Facilities,” Greenville North Carolina, (accessed September 2, 2016) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, granite

  • Sponsors

    Pitt County Veterans Council

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Vietnam Veteran, Gus Keyes, who was present at the dedication said he hoped the memorial would help Americans remember the real meaning of Memorial Day.

  • Subject Notes

    The first appearance of the "battlefield cross" is a matter of conjecture and different versions have appeared over the years. They were present as early as the Civil War to signify a dead soldier to be gathered and buried during a truce or after the battle. The configuration of the rifle pointed downward with a helmet perched on the stock was common during World War I and World War II. It was during these wars that it also began to serve as a memorial in addition to marking a body for removal by the Graves Registration Service. Although it is called a cross it carries no overt religious context.

    Beginning with the Gulf War in 1991, and during Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, the version of the battlefield cross like the Greenville memorial began to appear and had fully evolved into a symbol of loss, mourning and closure for the living.

    Interpretations vary regarding the meaning of the components, and how they are placed. The rifle facing downward means the soldier was killed in action; a rifle with a bayonet stuck in the ground tells us the soldier went down fighting. The placement of the boots and the presence of dog tags represent the soldier having made their final march into battle from which they will never be forgotten.

  • Location

    The memorial is located on the Town Commons at 105 E. 1st Street in Greenville, NC, and stands in front of the Veterans Memorial. Other memorials at this location include the Old Brickell Cannon, World War One, World War Two, Korean War memorial, Vietnam and Iraqi Freedom memorial, and a Millennial Sundial.

  • Landscape

    The Town Common features 21 acres of open green space located adjacent to the Uptown Greenville District. The Town Common is connected to the South Greenville Greenway by paved walk-ways, the Town Creek Bridge, a 1500-foot river walk and WWI Memorial Bridge along the Tar River.

  • Post Dedication Use

    Annual Memorial Day, July 4th and Veterans Day activities take place on the Town Commons.

Icon for reporting missing/incorrect information Know anything else about this monument that isn't mentioned here? If you have additional information on this or any other monument in our collection fill out the form at the Contact Us link in the footer. Thank you.