Statewide World War I commemoration the result of Sweet Briar professor’s research project

Posted on September 13, 2016 by Janika Carey

Sweet Briar College research professor Lynn Rainville, in collaboration with the University of Richmond’s Eric Yellin, has organized a special World War I commemoration to honor Virginians who served at home or abroad during the war. The event is part of a project sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, “soldier ghosts” — brought to life by re-enactors — will stand guard at five World War I memorials across the state. The vigil will take place at the following sites:

  • “Liberty” statue in Harrisonburg, located at the intersection of South Main and Liberty Street

  • A life-sized “Doughboy” statue in Petersburg, in a median on South Sycamore Street at the intersection of North Boulevard in the Walnut Hills neighborhood

  • An obelisk in front of the Front Royal Courthouse at 1 E. Main St.

  • A WWI-era housing development at Hilton Village in Newport News, with the marker at the corner of Warwick Boulevard and Main Street

  • A tribute to the Gold Star Mothers in Byrd Park, Richmond, and the state’s official World War I memorial, a carillon, also in Byrd Park

The re-enactors will have information about local men and women who served in World War I. In addition, the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society will display WWI-era medallions, given in honor of local servicemen who lost their lives between 1917-1919, in the Hollingsworth Mill Center at 1340 S. Pleasant Valley Road.

Yellin and Rainville have spent the past year collecting information about nearly 200 World War I memorials in Virginia. More information about the project can be found at

Rainville, who also serves as director of the Tusculum Institute, is an anthropological archaeologist. She specializes in the study of the everyday lives of ordinary people in historic Virginian communities using archaeological, ethnographic and historical sources to produce interdisciplinary models of social interactions.