Middletown’s Doughboy Monument nears full restoration
Statues are toppling right and left in our precarious times in America, but there's one statue that ain't goin' nowhere. Restoration of Middletown's Doughboy Monument, commemorating the Yanks who spearheaded America's entry into World War 1 a century ago, is on course for completion by the end of August.
Master stone carver Franco Minervini is restoring the life-size replica on Church Street in Belford, commissioned ty the township's Veterans Affairs Committee. Officials say that Minervini is one of only a handful of sculptors in America with the expertise for working with stone.
Since July, Minervini has fixed the Doughboy's rifle strap and trigger guard, the brim of his hat, uniform pocket, his left ear, and his fingers. He also noticed damage that,he suspects, could be traced to vandalism.
Middletown Mayor, Landmarks Commission member, and archaeology hobbiyist, Gerry Scharfenberger, noted that several dozen World War I vets hailed from Belford, Port Monmouth and New Monmouth.
"Our Doughboy statue is a way for our residents and visitors to pay homage to these veterans who sacrificed so much for us. It is also a reminder to future generations of the role Middletown played in one of the most significant conflicts in our nation's history," Scharfenberger said in prepared comments.
The restoration is financed through the township's 2016 capital budget, and donations from American Legion Post 338 and the Friends of the Veterans Affairs Committee.
Rededication is scheduled for November 4, 2017 - a week before Veterans' Day.
Middletown's deep respect for soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen and women who sacrificed for the ideals of liberty also includes the World War II Memorial on Leonardville Road at Croydon Hall, the Korean War Memorial on Wilson Avenue, and the Vietnam Veterans Monmument on Harkins Drive near Palmer Avenue.
Middletown's Fallen Veteran Commemorative Street Sigh Program, so far, has resulted in the installation of more than 50 signs in tribute to veterans killed in action from World War 1 to the present day. It's overseen by the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Department of Public Works.