Main Street Helena was among 14 organizations across the state awarded Department of Arkansas Heritage grants to commemorate the 2017 World War I Centennial. The purpose of the grants is to heighten the awareness of Arkansas's involvement in the “Great War, ” as well as its effects on the state.

Main Street Helena was among 14 organizations across the state awarded Department of Arkansas Heritage grants to commemorate the 2017 World War I Centennial. The purpose of the grants is to heighten the awareness of Arkansas's involvement in the “Great War, ” as well as its effects on the state.

The grant money will be used to help local organizations create projects, exhibits and programs promoting the theme, “A State of War: Arkansas Remembers World War I.”

MSH received a $5,000 grant to present a full month of lectures, films, music programs, exhibits and community events in the downtown Helena area at local sites such as the Delta Cultural Center, the American Legion Hut and the Helena Museum.

“Our grants are dedicated to helping communities develop and support programs encouraging local heritage tourism and engaging Arkansans in learning about the local impact of World War I,” stated Stacy Hurst, DAH director and state preservation officer.

April 2017 marked the 100th anniversary of America's involvement in World War I. As commander-in-chief, President Woodrow Wilson reluctantly declared war and committed the country to join other Allied countries in their efforts to defeat the German-led Central Powers.

Since 1927, the Spirit of the American Doughboy statue has stood guard at the north end of historic Cherry Street. It is one of 10 memorials in Arkansas that is dedicated specifically to the heroes of World War I. While there are other Doughboy statues, the one in Helena was the first erected in Arkansas.

The Doughboy was a project of a group that was more closely associated with memorializing the dead of the Civil War – the Phillips County Memorial Association. At the end of the WWI, the association raised money to build a monument to honor the local men who had fought in World War I. After nine long years of work by the association with the help of United Daughters of the Confederacy, the Doughboy was officially dedicated on July 10, 1927.