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Yesterday and Today
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Human Statue of Liberty
U.S. Army 163rd Depot Brigade
Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa
Photo taken on August 22, 1918

This one picture is worth 18,000 men

U.S. Army, Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa, 1918
Widest part of arm holding torch: 12.5 feet
Number of men in flame of torch: 1,200
Longest spike of head piece: 70 feet
Torch and flame combined: 980 feet
Number of men in right arm: 1,200
Number of men in torch: 2,800
Thickest part of body: 29 feet
Base to Shoulder: 1,500 feet
Total men in photo: 18,000
Left hand length: 30 feet
Right thumb: 35 feet
Right Arm: 340 feet
Nose: 21 feet
Face: 60 feet

Beginning at 1:00 p.m. units were assembled and by 2:30 p.m. the proper formation was completed and the photograph was taken. The ground was marked out by blocks, in the shape of the statue, which facilitated getting the soldiers into correct formation. From Liberty's feet to the tip of the torch the symbolical statue measured 499 yards. The photo was taken from a tower forty feet high, especially constructed for the occasion. On account of the mass formation and the heat, twelve soldiers fainted and were carried from the field. The high temperature reported for the day was 94 degrees.

This photograph was taken with an 11" x 14" view camera following several day's worth of work by the photographers to set up the image on the ground using thousands of yards of white tape. In addition, substantial coordination was required between the photographers and the commander's staff to ensure the various folds of the gown, the bible, the left hand, and the crown was properly outlined by soldiers wearing white shirts. The design for the living picture was laid out on the drill field at Camp Dodge, west of the current building S-34 and Maintenance Road. The large photographs went on sale for $1 at all the exchanges in the camp. Many soldiers sent the photo home to their families.

The layout at the reported 499 yards was nearly 5 times the length of the actual Statue of Liberty and yet the viewer will note that the correct perspective is maintained.

Note: Some have speculated that the soldiers in the photograph were members of the 88th Division who had been in training at Camp Dodge. This is erroneous as on August 16, 1918 all organizations of the Division were reported to have left Camp Dodge. The soldiers in the picture were members of the 163rd Depot Brigade under the command of Colonel William Newman, and under the direction of Colonel R. S. Wells. --

Memorial Day Airshow
Over the Statue of Liberty
May 28, 2012, New York City





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