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Author with Greenville ties to pay homage to WWI vets

A man with Greenville ties is giving a gift to Montgomery to honor all of Alabama’s WWI veterans. And he, in turn, is receiving France’s highest national decoration, the Legion of Honor.

Nimrod Thompson “Rod” Frazer, a prominent Montgomery businessman, community leader and  historical writer, has ties to the Camellia City through his grandmother Annie Laurie Riley Frazer Rouse. As a young widow and mother, Annie Laurie managed a boarding house on Dunklin Street in Greenville.

Frazer remembered and honored Annie Laurie in a book co-authored with his late brother William, “Annie Laurie’s People: One Hundred Years of Duty and Service in Greenville, Alabama.” The book was printed in two volumes, one focusing on the family history and the other, on the family’s military service.

Frazer has spoken at the Greenville Lions Memorial Celebration, quarterly meetings of the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society and had book signings at the Greenville-Public County Public Library.

A decorated veteran of the Korean War, Frazer is determined that all Alabamians who have served their country will also be honored and remembered. With a century having passed since the first world war, Frazer penned his most recent book, “Send the Alabamians: World War I Fighters in the Rainbow Division” to document the contributions these men made in the service of their country.

A roster of all the Alabamians who served, including men from Greenville, McKenzie and Georgiana, can be found inside Frazer’s book, as well as online at www.croixrougefarm.org.

Known as “The Immortals,” these brave soldiers, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice, were revered for their staunch courage in the face of unrelenting enemy attack. Fighting alongside the French at the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm, these Alabamians helped push back the Germans at the Ourcq River, one of the most critical points of the war.

Success there came at a high price, as the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm remains the second deadliest battle in Alabama history.

Those who survived were welcomed home to Alabama in May of 1919 with celebrations befitting their heroic status, but time has eroded memories of their service and sacrifice.

As a way to honor these men on the centennial of their departure for France, Frazer commissioned a bronze sculpture titled “Rainbow Soldier” by acclaimed British sculptor James Butler, RA. The sculpture will be located at Union Station in Montgomery—the spot from which Alabama’s 167th U.S. Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division departed for their service overseas. A duplicate of Butler’s statue has stood since 2011 in France near the Battle of Croix Rouge.

Frazer’s effort to keep the memory of these soldiers alive has been recognized by France, as he will soon receive that country’s highest national decoration, the Legion of Honor. For more than two centuries, the Legion of Honor has been bestowed upon those considered models of French civic service. It was founded on the principles of individual merit, universal recognition and contribution to the public good.

At 5 p.m. August 28, the “Rainbow Soldier,” gifted to the city by The Croix Rouge Farm Memorial Foundation through the generosity of  Frazer, will be officially dedicated in a ceremony at Union Station at 210 Water Street in Montgomery. The Consul General of France, Louis de Corail, military leaders, elected officials and business and community leaders all expected to attend the event, to which the public is also invited. Centennial celebrations and a parade are also planned as part of the 100th anniversary of the soldiers’ departure.