As the United States entered the Great War, Georgia played a vital role in supporting that cause. The famed 2nd Georgia Infantry, a sector of the Georgia National Guard that served on the U.S./Mexico border during the Pancho Villa crisis, sent three of its companies from Macon to form the 151st Machine Gun Battalion. Developed by the Macon Volunteers, the Floyd Rifles, the Hussars, and a company from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the unit became a gallant unit apart of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division that served in the many of the 1918 allied-coalition offensives. Many left Macon eager to fight, and some never made it home. Seventy-nine men from the 151st Machine Gun Battalion died in the fields of "France and Flanders," and as the city of Macon celebrated those that returned, they also wanted to find a way to reflect on the legacy and dedication of the soldiers that perished in battle.


Situated on Coleman Hill, a prominent geographic landscape west of the downtown business district, the Ladies Auxiliary of the 151st Machine Gun Battalion chose the location to host a large granite monument to memorialize the Macon and Lancaster men that died during their service. Symbolically placed, so the memorial overlooks the city, and its citizens can look up to the men that died, the designers and benefactors dedicated the monument on November 11, 1922. A massive parade that started on Cherry Street led a procession full of veterans from World War I, the Spanish-American War, Civil War, and local civic organizations to the site of the dedication. The parade welcomed many different groups in the procession, but the Gold-Starred Mothers float allowed for Macon residents to see the various mothers of that town that lost their son's in the line of duty.

The monument, a beautiful display of nuanced public art in a city scattered with few mid-nineteenth century monuments dedicating the Lost Cause of the Civil War,  became the testament of how a community will reflect on the war dead. Designed by Captain A. S. Brown, and constructed by the Schneider Marble Company of Americus, Georgia, the Elberton granite monument stands “fourteen feet high, it is twenty-nine feet, nine inches wide, and contains 200 to 600 pounds of granite.” The bronze tablet that displays the names of the fallen American soldiers from the 151st Machine Gun Battalion, both from Macon and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which rests six feet high and one foot wide. The monument is a broad testament to what the Macon and Pennsylvania men endured during 1918 in Europe. Thousands of Maconites witnessed the dedication, as various units laid wreaths around the granite platform, and speakers spoke of the courage and strength of the 151st Machine Gun Battalion.

Between 1922 and 2017, the memorial has been a spectacle of collective memory by hosting remembrance ceremonies for the Rainbow Division Veterans Association, the 151st Machine Gun Battalion, the City of Macon-Bibb County, and Middle Georgia State University. More recently, the conjunction of president of MGA Christopher Blake and Mayor Robert Reichart have hosted Veteran's Day ceremonies every November 11 to remember and reflect on the 151st Machine Gun Battalion, other World War I participants, as well as veterans of wars since 1918.

By John R. Legg