Merle Haggard is one of Muskogee, Okla.’s most famous names — and he never even lived there. In his honor, the city has green-lit a project to create a memorial to the recently deceased country icon.
The Muskogee Phoenix reports that officials at the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame have received approval to place a monument to Haggard on the Muskogee Civic Center’s north lawn. The original vision for the memorial includes a bronze sculpture of Haggard, sitting on a bench with a guitar case and a hat. According to the paper, there is an opportunity to expand the monument to add in a piece that Haggard designed himself, originally to go on his ranch.
“The bench will be great,” Hall of Fame Executive Director Jim Blair tells the Phoenix, “but what a story to tell — to have a memorial standing next to it that was designed by Merle himself.”
A timeline for the memorial’s construction has not yet been revealed. The newspaper reports that the project has been five years in the making, though the timing of the approval is a bit ironic in light of Haggard’s death on April 6.
Although Haggard is a California native, his parents resided in Checotah, Okla., slightly south of Muskogee, before moving west. In September of 1969, the country legend released “Okie From Muskogee,” which became one of his signature songs.
A biopic about Haggard’s life is also in the works.
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