The Return from the Argonne

"The Return from the Argonne" sculpture by James Butler and donated to the city by Rod Frazer was unveiled to the public at Union Station on Veteran's Day 2021.

“At 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month (November)”, the city of Montgomery hosted the dedication of a new monument named “The Return from the Argonne'' in front of Union Station as part of the city's Memorial Day tribute. The specific time and day are important because it was at that time on that day, in 1918, that World War I officially ended.

“We recognize this day not to celebrate victory but to honor those who made victory possible,” said Mayor Steven Reed. He went on to wish everyone a happy veterans day and thank all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, saying, “our flag flies with the last breath of each soldier who died defending it.”

The monument was sculpted by James Butler and donated to the city by Rod Frazer who said, “this is something I've spent a lifetime doing. November 11th was sacred ground in my family.”

Frazer also mentioned that his father attended the funerals of many Alabamians who died in the Argonne, the largest military offensive in U.S. history.

“The Return from the Argonne” sculpture joins “The Rainbow Soldier”, another sculpture by Butler which also stands in front of Union Station. The reason for the sculptures being located in front of the station is because it was from there that soldiers from Montgomery departed for World War I in August 1917 and where they returned in May of 1919.

In addition to the dedication there was also an F-16 flyover by the 187th Air National Guard, a 21-gun salute and a performance by the 151st Alabama National Guard band. Mayor Reed and Frazer were joined by representatives from France and the U.S. military, as well as city officials and a crowd of around 200 spectators.

Anyone interested in learning more about the 167th infantry in the Argonne can find it in Rod Frazer's book “The best World War I story I know: On the point in the Argonne, September 26th - October 16th 1918”, which was published by the Rainbow Division's veterans foundation