Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park
The Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park, located at the intersection of George, Barton, and Liberty Streets, includes memorials dating back to 1926. These include the World War I memorial flagpole and plaque, which lists the names of local soldiers who died in that war; a World War II US Navy twin 40mm antiaircraft gun, installed to replace a cannon that was melted down for World War II manufacturing; and the Fredericksburg Area War Memorial, completed in 2008 to expand the scope of the park to honor local soldiers in all of America’s conflicts in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The park also serves as the location for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies each year.
Backstory and Context
The Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park, located at the intersection of George, Barton, and Liberty Streets, includes memorials dating back to 1926. This first memorial, the World War I memorial flagpole and plaque, was planned, funded, and built by the War Memorial Committee. Fredericksburg threw a grand celebration for its returning doughboys in July 1919; it honored the seventeen who could not come home with this plaque listing each of their names, as well as the units formed in the local area. The Committee also installed a captured German cannon in front of the memorial.
During World War II, scrap metal was in high demand. The cannon, along with probably countless other now-rare relics, was taken for the war effort; “it would be melted down and turned back into bullets to be shot back at the Germans.” It was not replaced for exactly twenty years. In 1962, the local American Legion post was able to acquire a World War II-era US Navy twin 40mm antiaircraft gun on its original ship mount from the US Marine Corps Museum, and it was installed at the site.
In the mid-1990s, the memorial was in poor condition and in need of restoration. Some suggested repairing it and replacing the gun with a World War I piece. This plan was initially approved; however, sometime later, City Council adopted a proposal to remove the gun, now a safety hazard, completely and install a “volunteers’ memorial” in the park. This plan received little public attention until the gun was suddenly removed in 1998. Succeeding outcry from veterans’ groups and the local community caused the Council to rethink the proposed volunteers’ memorial and instead support a restoration of the current World War I memorial and an expansion to honor the soldiers who died in all of America’s modern conflicts.
This effort was led by the newly-created Fredericksburg Area Veterans Council, which is composed of representatives from several local veterans’ and support groups. The new memorial, christened the Fredericksburg Area War Memorial, was completed in 2008 and dedicated on September 13th of that year. It is composed of a granite capstone (with the inscription “Our Fallen Heroes”) supported by six granite slabs. Several of these slabs list the names of the more than four hundred soldiers from Caroline, King George, Orange, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties and Fredericksburg itself who died in World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Global War on Terror. Several others are left blank, to honor the soldiers who will die in future conflicts. The memorial is surrounded by a brick “Walk of Honor” dedicated to hundreds of other local veterans.
The memorial has been vandalized several times—once each year in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Today, the memorial and surrounding park are used for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
1) About; Fredericksburg Area Veterans Council, Facebook. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.facebook.com/pg/FredericksburgAreaVetsCouncil/about/?ref=page_internal.
2) Caprara, David. Remembering America's Fallen Soldiers—Before They’ve Fallen, The Atlantic. May 29th 2016. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/memorial-day/483126/.
3) Davis, Kristin. Graffiti, vandalism in Fredericksburg on the rise, The Free Lance-Star. July 9th 2015. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://fredericksburg.com/news/crime_courts/graffiti-vandalism-in-fredericksburg-on-the-rise/article_7b3a85dc-265d-11e5-954d-8f836b2de5b7.html.
4) Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park, World War I Memorial Inventory Project. Accessed September 8th 2020. http://ww1mproject.org/items/show/91.
5) Fredericksburg Veterans Day Procession: Sunday, November 11, 2018; Calendar, Fredericksburg, Virginia. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.fredericksburgva.gov/Calendar.aspx?EID=1899.
6) Hutchinson, Laura L. Vandals deface Fredericksburg Area Veterans Memorial, The Free Lance-Star. July 2nd 2015. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://fredericksburg.com/news/local/vandals-deface-fredericksburg-area-veterans-memorial/article_5a367914-20fd-11e5-8a1a-a740b1332af3.html.
7) Larson, Susan. Fredericksburg War Memorial Vandalized, Patch: Fredericksburg, VA. November 13th 2013. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://patch.com/virginia/fredericksburg/fredericksburg-war-memorial-vandalized.
8) Moyers, Dwayne, and Maryanne Moyers. Fredericksburg Area War Memorial Park, Flickr. March 31st 2013. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.flickr.com/photos/moyersteam/8608692292/in/photostream/.
9) Prats, J. J., Kevin W., and Craig Swain. Fredericksburg Roll of Honor, HMdb.org. January 25th 2020. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=2516.
10) Preserving The Fredericksburg Area War Memorial. Accessed September 8th 2020. http://members.tripod.com/fbg_mem_museum/fbwwimem.htm.
11) VerHeist, Megan. Veterans Day 2019: Ceremony, What's Open In Fredericksburg, Patch: Fredericksburg, VA. November 8th 2019. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://patch.com/virginia/fredericksburg/veterans-day-2019-ceremony-whats-open-fredericksburg.
12) With official gatherings canceled, Fredericksburg area looks for new ways to mark Memorial Day, The Free-Lance Star. May 24th 2020. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://fredericksburg.com/news/local/with-official-gatherings-canceled-fredericksburg-area-looks-for-new-ways-to-mark-memorial-day/article_8e0995e6-b768-52af-89c2-5af4bdbd8c53.html.
13) W., Kevin. A Memorial Landscape: Fredericksburg: Timeless., HMdb.org. April 21st 2020. Accessed September 8th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=64223.
By Craig Swain on HMdb.org (https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=46713)
By Craig Swain on HMdb.org (https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=46714)
By Craig Swain on HMdb.org (https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=46715)
By Kevin W. on HMdb.org (https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=237927)
By Kevin W. on HMdb.org (https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=7066)