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Bronze doughboy honors World War I soldiers

Marin’s doughboy is a memorial to the county’s soldiers who never returned.

By Scott Fletcher | Marin History Museum

October 15, 2018 at 12:00 pm

Marin’s surviving World War I veterans determined to build a memorial to the county’s soldiers who never returned.

On Sept. 15, 1921, the Marin County Ex-service Men’s Memorial Organization placed an advertisement in the Marin Journal soliciting donations. Chairman John J. Sheehy’s goal was simple: collect a contribution from every Marin household. In October, the committee announced that Larkspur, which lost no men in the war, was the first town to meet its pledge goal. Ultimately, $8,000 were raised.

One year later, on a hot afternoon of bunting, speeches and military bands, Tamalpais and Hitchcock Military Academy cadets stood at attention in front of the San Rafael Courthouse saluting as an oversized American flag slipped from Maj. Joseph J. Mora’s bronze doughboy.

In 1969, the last of Marin’s judges, jailers and administrators left the San Rafael Courthouse for the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Civic Center. Marin’s doughboy remained behind, guarding the vacated building until May 25, 1971, when the courthouse burnt in a suspicious fire. Supervisor John F. McInnes called for the statue’s relocation to the Civic Center’s Veterans’ Auditorium. Although veterans and families objected to the doughboy’s proposed location, the Board of Supervisors disagreed. On Oct. 26, 1971, attended only by crane operators and movers, Marin’s doughboy settled into his new home.

The War to End All Wars did not achieve its promise. Today, Marin’s doughboy strides forward beside memorials to the sailors lost in in the Merchant Marine, as well as the men and women who gave their lives in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

P. O. Box 150727, San Rafael, CA 94915        415-382-1182    

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