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21st Avenue eagles rededicated to WWI vets

Published: May. 28, 2012 at 9:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 4, 2012 at 9:59 PM CDT
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One of the bronze eagles watching over the Rainbow viaduct. Source: WBRC video
One of the bronze eagles watching over the Rainbow viaduct. Source: WBRC video
One of the refurbished plaques. Source: WBRC video
One of the refurbished plaques. Source: WBRC video

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Bagpipers and soldiers walked up the hill of the 21st Avenue viaduct in downtown Birmingham today to remember Alabama's involvement in WWI.

Arden Roger Allen along with his brother Hubbard Allen were two of the brave men who fought in France. Arden returned home when Birmingham honored the bravery of his unit, the 167th Infantry, Rainbow Division. The Rainbow viaduct is named for them.

Winifred Akridge is Arden Allen's daughter and she attended today's rededication ceremony.

"My dad marched across the bridge with the group that dedicated the bridge, I don't remember what year it was, it was in the 1920s," she said.

At times Akridge got chocked up thinking about her father and she knows he would have loved this re-dedication.

"I'm just touched and so pleased this has been done,"

The eagles, plaques and viaduct were dedicated to the 167th after the regiment of Alabama soldiers won a battle against the Germans with just the bayonets on their rifles.

But nearly 100-years outdoors ruined the concrete eagles that stood guard for so long on this bridge. Today, bronze eagles were unveiled to replace the concrete ones along with refurbished bronze plaques.

It took a small group to work for two years to get this statue in place, one that a lot of us don't pay any attention to, now we will, for a long, long time.

Several dignitaries attended the rededication today including Mayor Bell, Spencer Bachus and Governor Bentley. But it was the soldiers, part of today's 167th, sitting quietly in the heat who deploy to Afghanistan in a month that caught the eye. Perhaps they were thinking of their WWI brethren and if they'll be able to celebrate what we can only hope will be the last war.

Copyright 2012 WBRC. All rights reserved.