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Kansas Merci Boxcar & Veterans Memorial Park
Veterans ParkThe Veterans Memorial Park was started in 1993 in preparation of the Moving Wall display. The park features many trees, flowers, park benches and a circle of flagpoles. Over the years, additional memorial items were added to the park including a miniature replica of the Washington monument and a Korea-Vietnam M-60 A1 Tank. Guided tours available.

What is the Forty Et Eight?
La Societe des Quarante Hommes et Huit Chevaux, an independent fraternal organization of Veterans, popularly known as the FORTY ET EIGHT, was organized in 1920 as the fun and honor society of American Legionnaires. Now composed of Veterans of both World Wars, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, it draws its origin from WW I when young Americans were sent to France to fight a war to end all wars. The narrow gauge railroads of France had boxcars (Voitures) that carried little more than half the capacity of American boxcars and these voitures were used to transport the men and horses to and from the fighting fronts. The capacity of each boxcar was stenciled on the side. Holding either forty men or eight horses these voitures became the trademark of the organization.

Inside the Box CarIn February 1949, a merchant ship docked at Weehawhen, New Jersey to deliver its cargo of 49 railroad boxcars that were marked on the side "TRAIN DE LA RECONNAISSANCE FRANCAISE", and on the other side "GRATITUDE TRAIN". These boxcars were laden with gifts from the French people in gratitude and appreciation to the United States for the "Friendship Train" which the French people received from the United States on December 18, 1947. The "Friendship Train" which was loaded with carloads of food, medicine and supplies was sent to France to help the people recover after WWII. The "GRATITUDE TRAIN" boxcars were marked with French letters "Hommes 40 (40 Men) and CHEVAUX 8 (8 Horses) indicating the freight load of the boxcar.

The "GRATITUDE TRAIN" consisted of forty-nine boxcars, one for each for the forty-eight states, and one for the District of Columbia to be shared with the district of Hawaii. Each car contained gifts, artwork, and treasured items from the people of France. The Kansas boxcar first arrived in Topeka in June 1949 and visited 120 communities before its last stop in Hays on November 11, 1949. A huge community celebration, parade and acceptance ceremony was held in Hays on that Veterans Day.

Contact Us
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Kansas Merci Boxcar & Veterans Memorial Park - at American Legion


13th & Canterbury
Hays, KS 67601

785-625-9681
785-625-3813

Hours:
Guided tours available by appointment.