By Mike Miller, Star Committee member
Recently, efforts have been underway to revamp the “star” just off of Pearl Street, across from Oakwood Cemetery in Macon. There are a lot of stories about just what this star was originally. A committee of Dan Mayhew, Ruth Masten, Jimmy Maloney and Mike Miller have looked into the history of the star and how it came about.
Here is the story, as best can be determined:
In April of 1919, the ground where the star is currently, belonged to Oakwood Cemetery. At that time this area was dedicated to the “Gold Star Men”, those who had died during World War I. There were 40 trees planted on the grounds, each with an engraved copper plate that was banded on the trees with the names of those from Macon County who had perished in the war. Aside from the 40 trees marked, two were reserved at the entrance of the grounds in honor of General Pershing and Major General Leonard Wood. This area was named “Memorial Park”.
Plans were made at that time, “in the very near future, a large flower bed in the form of a star will be made in the foreground of this plot, and to the rear a large stone with the engraved names thereon be erected”.
The star was made there, but for some reason the “large stone with the engraved names” was placed in front of the Macon County Courthouse, where it still stands.
The current “Star Committee” looked at moving the original star from it’s current location to a location more appropriate, and away from the housing .
Due to the deteriorated condition of the star, it was deemed it could not be moved so an exact replica was built just a little south of the original location.
At some time, a cannon from a Spanish ship that had been captured during the Spanish American War was moved from the Blees Military Academy and placed just south of the star in the park. General Frederick W. V. Blees had placed two of the cannons in front of the academy at the turn of the century.
During World War II. our nation was in immediate need for all of the metal that could be acquired to make the various pieces of equipment that would be used to win the war. Scrap drives were held nationwide, including Macon County. The cannon from Memorial Park was loaded on a truck and delivered to Hannibal to be place on a river barge as a donation to the World War II iron drive.
Page 2 of 2 - Future plans are to acquire another cannon for this site and to dedicate the area as a Memorial to the Home Front. As far as can be determined, there is not another “memorial to the home front” in the nation. Since the original cannon was donated by this area in support of the scrap iron drive, as well as numerous thousands of pounds of scrap iron from all over the county; the other hardships that were placed on the civilian population during the war to include the rationing of rubber, gasoline, sugar, beef and other items; it is thought that it is appropriate to honor all of those who have suffered on the home front during all the wars.
If anyone has questions, comments, wants more information or to make a donation to the effort, may contact one of the committee persons listed above, or you may contact the committee at P.O. Box 132, Macon, MO 63552.