HIGHLAND PARK, NJ – Borough officials are launching plans to try to return the fallen Doughboy statue to his familiar post.
Highland Park Police Captain Joe Curbelo said the police department and the department of public works are soliciting quotes from vendors, trying to determine if the statue can be fixed or needs to be replaced.
“There is no paperwork on actual ownership, however, the Borough has been paying for its upkeep over the years,” Curbelo said. “We will submit the cost to the Borough's insurance company and they will move forward with contacting the insurance company of the tractor-trailer.”
The Doughboy - a slang term for a U.S. infantryman - stood sentinel for almost 99 years at the fork where Route 27 (Raritan Avenue) and Woodbridge Avenue (Sixth Avenue) diverge.
The statue was felled by the driver of a tractor-trailer who was trying to make an ill-advised U-turn on Oct. 16.
The statue was knocked from its base and its head was broken off.
Bob Porter, a spokesman for VFW Post 370 in New Brunswick said the statue’s base was damaged and an American flag that stood behind the statue was also knocked down.
The Doughboy has been the point of departure for the annual Memorial Day parade the concludes at Monument Square Park in New Brunswick. It has also been the point where VFW members and others gather to observe Veterans Day each fall.
Porter said the VFW is working on alternate plans for its Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony next month.
Word of the fallen Doughboy spread quickly across social media, where residents of Highland Park and New Brunswick expressed their sadness. Some offered to set up GoFundMe pages to raise money to repair the statue, if that was needed.
The fate of the Doughboy statue was a topic of discussion at the Highland Park Mayor and Council Meeting on Oct. 20.
“I hope to see the Doughboy statue rise again soon and assume its proud place in town,” said Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler “Now, more than ever, we need its message of bravery, sacrifice and unity. It is a universally meaningful symbol in town. Our horizons are impoverished without it.”