Gastonia, N.C. – A piece of military history commemorating World War II returned to Belmont Middle School on Wednesday, July 18. The Spirit of the Fighting Yank memorial, which stood in front of Belmont Middle School for several decades was found knocked over and vandalized last summer.
E.M. Viquesney’s The Spirit of the Fighting Yank was installed at the school in 1946. The World War II statue is one of only five in the United States. The inscription on the statue reads, “Erected in Honor of All Who Served in World War II and Dedicated to the Everlasting Memory of Those Who Gave Their Lives."
Many residents in Belmont stopped and took pictures of the eight-foot statue being lowered onto the base by a crane.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Roger Barker, who remembers the statue as a young boy. “I’m glad to see him back in front of the school.”
Greg Talton was on a morning run when he stopped to take pictures of the statue. “I’m glad to see it back up,” said Talton. “It broke my heart when I heard it was vandalized.”
Conservations Solutions, Inc., which is known for preservation and restoration of historic and artistic works, restored the statue at a cost of $30,000. Gaston County Schools insurance and donations from the community paid for the restoration.
To view a slideshow of photos on the installation of the World War II memorial statue, please click here.