At the head of Main Street in downtown Sarasota, Florida sits a flag pole. The base of this structure reads, “Welcome Buddies.”
To most, the phrase is simply a friendly welcome. If onlookers walk a few feet over, however, they can read an historical plaque that explains the true meaning of who the buddies are and why they are being welcomed.
On June 28, 1917, the Sarasota-Times reported on the dedication of the flag pole that occurred five days prior. The paper credited the placement of the flag to “the patriotic and progressive spirit of the citizens of Sarasota.” The ceremony included a parade that began at the Sarasota Women’s Club House. Those in the parade included fifteen members of the local Red Cross auxiliary and two of the “sailor lads” who had been sent home to due physical disability.1
As previously indicated, the article emphasized the patriotic nature of the ceremony. It quoted various speeches made by important members of the local community. These speakers all mentioned the greatness of the nation that the flag represents. Specific references were made to the war that was still raging on. The article included the remarks of T. Z. B. Everton, “a young lawyer of this city,” who stated, “this war was the biggest that mortal man ever knew.”2
On November 11, 1919, the nation’s first official Armistice Day was held in celebration of the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany a year prior. In Sarasota, this day brought with it a second, larger celebration of the flag pole.
According to Jeff LaHurd, of the Sarasota History Center, the Armistice Day parade was led by Sarasota’s returning veterans. The soldiers marched down Main Street to the flag pole that had been erected two years before. Mr. LaHurd wrote in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that, as the service men approached the flag, they were greeted by the words “WELCOME BUDDIES” written on the pavement, and the header of this website. At the festivities, the Sarasota Woman’s Club pledged to plant one oak tree for each of the returning soldiers. These trees, collectively known as the Memorial Oaks, were placed on a portion of Main Street that was named Victory Avenue.3
The flag pole received an addition in 1928 on the tenth anniversary of Armistice Day (Fig. 5). Known as the American Legion War Memorial, LaHurd writes, “at that time Sarasota had not lost anyone in battle but the ever-visible Memorial reminded passersby of the ultimate sacrifice of countless others.”4
Though those in 1928 did not know it yet, the Memorial would someday be marked with the names of many Sarasotans who lost their lives in subsequent wars. Names were first added on Memorial Day in 1960.5 The only name under WWI is Horace W. Mink, who died at camp from pneumonia. Unfortunately, since 1960, the list of names has grown (Fig. 6).
Today the Memorial lives a bit further down Main Street on Gulf Stream Avenue. It was moved to its current location on July 5, 1954, though the flag pole remains at its original spot (see Fig. 1).6
Furthering the memorial’s original connection to WWI, in 1998, a “doughboy” statue was added to the top.7
The term “doughboy” has long been used to describe United States soldiers. However, the title is most traditionally applied to veterans of the Great War.8
The statue’s official title is “The Spirit of the American Doughboy,” recreated from a famous original made in 1920. Copies of the statue were mass produced around the nation. According to the Smithsonian’s Art Inventory Catalog, there are 163 copies in the United States.9
Fig. 1. “Five Points Flag Pole,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 2. “City of Sarasota Five Points Historical Plaque,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 3. “Armistice Day Parade, 1919,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 4. “Welcome Buddies, Armistice Day Parade, 1919,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 5. “Dedication of Sarasota War Memorial, Armistice Day, 1928,” photograph, courtesy of Sarasota County Historical Resources, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 6. “American Legion Sarasota War Memorial,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
Fig. 7. “Doughboy Statue,” digital photograph, taken by Joy Feagan, Sarasota, Florida.
- “Flag Pole Dedicated Saturday: The Ceremonies Were Simple But Very Impressive And Patriotic,” Sarasota-Times, June 28, 1917.
- Jeff LaHurd, “Five Points was always center of Sarasota’s patriotism,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, May 25, 2014, www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140525/ARTICLE/140529779?p=1&tc=pg&tc=ar (accessed March 15, 2015).
- Michael E. Hanlon, “The Origins of Doughboy,” Great War Society, www.worldwar1.com/dbc/origindb.htm (accessed March 14, 2015).
- Database search “Viquesney, E. M., 1876-1946, sculptor,” Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian, http://siris-artinventories.si.edu/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=1RM663A674811.3702&profile=ariall&uri=link=3100006~!204120~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=Browse&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!siartinventories&term=Viquesney%2C+E.+M.%2C+1876-1946%2C+sculptor.&index=AUTHOR (accessed March 14, 2015).