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They’re Still Standing Guard

Chugging up the steep slope along Oglebay’s walking path, I catch my breath and a glimpse of him as the morning sunlight bounces off his green patina. Sitting as if the watchdog of the park, the majestic Stag statue has been in the same location since before World War II.

Anyone who has traversed these paths and green spaces that intertwine the Waddington Gardens and Kuchinka Amphitheatre have seen this impressive bronze Stag sculpture sitting atop his brick stand in the middle of the grass.

Since my childhood, I have seen the Stag in this place. I played in its shadow with others attending day camp at the park. We took turns climbing aboard his generous body for an imaginary ride into childhood fantasy.

His friendly expression has not changed despite the fact that vandals broke off his hefty antlers decades ago. He is not deterred from his post.

If only he could talk, perhaps he would tell us about the couples that stole kisses in his presence.

I wonder how many times he sat in witness of intimate wedding ceremonies held within his courtyard. I know of several couples that vowed their love with the Stag in attendance. Sadly, the Stag has stood the test of time while some of the marriages he witnessed have not.

Maybe he would snort at the antics of some errant youngsters who have decorated him with various clothing and holiday decorations over the years. First-time visitors and returning area natives often take time out to have their pictures taken with the Stag.

He is almost as popular as the statue of Mingo, the Native American that stands at the crest of Wheeling Hill.

This Memorial Day on Monday will bring well-deserved attention to another local landmark — the World War I Doughboy statue located at Wheeling Park. Formally known as the “Spirit of the American Doughboy,” this monument will be rededicated after a lengthy refurbishing project made possible by all those who believe in its merits to our past.

Wheeling’s American Legion Post 1, the oldest post in the country, will lead the rededication ceremony set for 2 p.m. Monday at the foot of the monument.

The statue, which sits on a knoll just beyond the playground in Wheeling Park, can be seen from National Road. What a wonderful opportunity to explain the true meaning of Memorial Day to the younger generation by attending the rededication ceremony.

Like the Stag, the Doughboy statue is worth another look and maybe a picture or two.

Have a safe Memorial Day holiday!

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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