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On Victory Drive in City Park there appear to be gravestones with names and dates of World War I soldiers. Are they memorial markers or actual graves? 

Blake Pontchartrain: N.O. Know It All

Hey Blake,

On Victory Drive in City Park there appear to be gravestones with names and dates of World War I soldiers. Are they memorial markers or actual graves?

Peter Callahan

Dear Peter,

  What you spotted are memorials to local World War I soldiers who were killed in action. They are not burial sites. To introduce the new Victory Avenue in City Park in 1919, local residents were invited to establish memorials on the magnolia and oak trees that lined the avenue, starting from the Grandjean Bridge near what is now the New Orleans Museum of Art. The bridge also is a memorial. Built in 1938, it was named after civil engineer George H. Grandjean, who designed the park's lagoons.

  The memorials that remain along Victory Avenue honor Cpl. Thomas A. Gragard, Pvt. Walter Judson Cox and his brother Cpl. Wallace J. Cox. Gragard was born in New Orleans and was a decorated member of the 79th Company, 6th Regiment of the U.S. Marines. He volunteered for the Marine Corps in 1917, soon after the United States entered World War I, and was killed at Bouresches (Aisne), France, in 1918. He was 27.

  The Cox brothers, both Gold Star recipients, were born in Donaldsonville and later moved to New Orleans with their family. In 1918, U.S. Marine Walter Cox died at the age of 28. An article in The Times-Picayune said he was killed between Soissons and Reims, France, in a battle that saved Paris. His brother, Wallace Cox of the U.S. Army, was killed nine days later during a battle in France. He was 26.

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