EMMITSBURG — Town commissioners announced Tuesday their decision to keep the controversial plaque at the base of the “doughboy” statue.
The plaque on Emmitsburg’s “doughboy” statue recognizes local veterans of World War I. “Doughboy” was a colloquial name for an infantryman during World War I. The statue’s plaque includes over 100 veterans’ names, and has three names under the heading “Colored Soldiers.”
The statue stood in front of the historic Emmit House, at 601 W. Main St. in Emmitsburg, until it was hit by a car in June.
In October, at a public hearing on the statue, some local residents defended the “Colored Soldiers” heading, saying it is a historical document, and pays respect to the struggles of those who served.
The commissioners and town staff members received a lot of feedback regarding the plaque’s wording, Board of Commissioners President Tim O’Donnell said after the town meeting Tuesday evening.
Some of that feedback came from local veterans groups, who wanted the original plaque to be retained.
“We weigh their input heavily,” O’Donnell said.
The four town commissioners who were present voted to set a spending limit on repairs for the statue and its pedestal. Commissioner Joseph Ritz III was absent.
The winning bid to fix the statue came in at $40,000. The council decided to accept the bid and set the limit for fixing the statue at $40,000. The contract hasn’t yet been signed.
On the same night the statue was knocked off its pedestal, a shooting at an African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina, left nine people dead.
The shooting prompted Emmitsburg resident Bob Rosensteel to call for a plaque for the statue that does not refer to race, but lists the names alphabetically.
Town Manager David Haller said town staff members and commissioners are considering a second plaque to be placed beside the original.
The wording of the second plaque has not been decided, but it would recognize the “Colored Soldiers” reference and note that the commission had decided to leave the plaque’s original language.
O’Donnell said the second plaque is “a big if.”
“It will be considered,” he said.
Once the statue is repaired, it will be placed back in its original location at the Emmit House. The repairs will take about six months, Haller said, and could begin within the next month.
O’Donnell said he heard from residents who had complained the repairs were taking too long, and that the site where the statue had been was unsightly.
“It’s frustrating for everybody,” he said.
According to Haller, the contractor who will repair the statue will have to quarry new stones for the pediment, and will make some repairs to the metal statue. It will be up to the commissioners to decide on a second plaque in the coming months.