This sculpture is a tribute to the more than 100,000 Oklahoma men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) safeguarding the natural resources of our nation.
Created by John Gooden, the sculpture is modeled after Reverend Melvin Grant, CCC worker at Camp Wilkerson in Oklahoma from 1940 to 1941. Reverend Grant was chosen as the subject of the sculpture by a membership vote of the Central Oklahoma CCC Alumni. It was decided that the sculpture would depict Grant at the age of 17.
Melvin was the ninth of sixteen children born to an Oklahoma sharecropper, just before the Great Depression. He grew up in a world of hard work and strong discipline, working the family fields as a plowboy from age fifteen, sun up to sun down, six days a week. At age 17 he left home, eventually finding work and a sense of independence with the Civilian Conservation Corps.
On December 3, 1943, as the United States was deeply engaged in the World War II in the Pacific, Melvin joined the Marine Corps. He fought in the pacific islands as a flame thrower, serving with great distinction in one of the most dangerous assignments available. He narrowly escaped death on numerous occasions as he fought in Okinawa. Many of his company perished there.
Following the war and time spent as a rancher and businessman, Melvin followed a calling to the ministry. Reverend Grant shared the ministry with audiences on every continent and served as a pastor for thirty-five years. His story and sacrifice have been the subject of books, movies, and abundant publicity.
About the CCC
Created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression as a means to employ the unemployed youth of our nation, the CCC’s mission was to install conservation practices, protect infrastructure and revitalize natural resources. During their years of service, the men of the CCC built more than 46,854 bridges, 4,622 fishponds, 27,191 miles of fence, 204 lodges and museums, 3,116 lookout towers and 8,065 wells and pump houses. They also developed over 800 state parks, restored 3,980 historic structures, improved 3,462 beaches and surveyed and mapped millions of acres of land and hundreds of lakes. The CCC moved and planted 45 million trees and shrubs for landscaping and three billion trees for reforestation.
In Oklahoma, the CCC is credited with the establishment of at least six state parks as well as numerous other recreational areas. They are also responsible for the construction of more than one hundred campgrounds throughout the state. Through perseverance and strength of character, the CCC constructed roads, terraces, shelters belts, trails, park cabins, and dams.