Muskogee Paying Tribute to Merle Haggard With Memorial
Merle Haggard put the town of Muskogee, Okla., on the musical map, and the city will pay tribute to the country icon with a public memorial.
Haggard scored one of the most enduring hits of his career in 1969 with "Okie From Muskogree," which turned into an anthem for blue collar rural Americans during a time when many felt that simple way of life was being threatened by the ideals of the hippie movement. According to the Muskogee Phoenix, officials at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame have received approval and private funding to build a monument in Haggard's memory on the north lawn of the Muskogee Civic Center.
The memorial was originally supposed to include a bronze sculpture of Haggard sitting on a bench with a guitar case and a hat. The Phoenix reports the monument may be expanded to include a piece that Haggard designed himself, which he originally intended to go on his ranch.
“The bench will be great,” Hall of Fame Executive Director Jim Blair tells the newspaper, “but what a story to tell — to have a memorial standing next to it that was designed by Merle himself.”
The Pheonix reports the Haggard memorial has been in the works for five years. Haggard passed away on April 6 after suffering complications from a recurring battle with double pneumonia.
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