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Indiana War Memorial Plaza

Indiana War Memorials

Written by Julie Greiner
At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, there were virtually no active military units in Indiana. Yet within a week after the assault upon Fort Sumter, thousand of volunteers answered the call and assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana to go to war! For everyone and anyone who is a Civil War buff and/or student - The Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum warrants a visit to Indianapolis on its own.

Solders and Sailors Monument

An outstanding achievement of Architectural and Sculptural Art, the Solders and Sailors Monument has
come to symbolize the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Originally intended to the memory of Indiana's Civil War Veterans, now it commemorates the valor of Indiana's military men and women in all wars prior to World War I. This Monument is the only Civil War Monument in America dedicated to ordinary soldiers and sailors. Indiana soldiers fired the first and last infantry volleys, made the first and last charges, and were the first and last soldiers to die in the war. More men of military age percentage wise served from Indiana than
Bronze statue 'For Country'
any other state except Delaware. More than 24,000 Hoosiers gave their lives to preserve the Union. The monument was designed by an architect from Berlin, Germany named Bruno Schmitz. The Monument was dedicated on may 15, 1902, some nearly $600,000 later. The Monument at its top of the Victory statue is only 15 feet shorter than the Statue of Liberty. The circle on which the Monument sits is the very center of downtown Indianapolis. The surrounding buildings and establishments have changed a few times over the past 100 years, but the Monument remains. Inside the Monument is housed the Colonel Eli Lilly Civil War Museum. In the winter, the exterior fountain is frozen over for ice skating and the monument is decorated for the holidays. For over a hundred years, this Monument has remained the center of Indianapolis.

Indiana War Memorial Plaza

The Indiana War Memorial Plaza is located downtown Indianapolis at 431
North Meridian Street. The Crown Jewel of the plaza is the Indiana World War Memorial Building. Due to a number of delays this building was under construction from 1926 until 1965 when it was finally completed. The Memorial building sits on a city block that is raised above street level and the building itself rises some 210 feet in the air. From the double leaf bronze doors, the roof topped by a lantern and the vertical mass of the shrine with six columns per side - makes for a very impressive structure. On the south steps, facing University Park, the Pro Patria bronze sculpture "for
University Park in Indianapolis, Indiana
country" stands on a pink granite base and is some 24 foot tall. In 1929, when the sculpture was set into place, it was the largest sculptured bronze casting ever made in America. The sculpture, by Henry Hering, features a young man draped in an American flag reaching heavenward. The interior of the War Memorial building has three main floors. The upper level is the Shrine Room which is made up of materials from all over the world, symbolizing peace and unity and is symbolic of the world wide nature of World War I. The building also houses administrative offices, two 75-seat meeting rooms, the Pershing Auditorium which seats 500 (which are all available for public use) and a Military Museum that portrays the history of Indiana's gallant veterans and a listing of names of all Hoosiers killed or missing in action including Vietnam.

University Park

University Park is located on the
USS Indianapolis Memorial
Images Courtesy Indiana War Memorials Commission
block just south of the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza in downtown Indianapolis. The centerpiece of University Park is the Depew Fountain designed by Karl Bitter and completed by Stirling Calder after Bitter's death in 1917. The Benjamin Harrison statue honors Indiana's only President, which was unveiled in 1908. There is a seated Lincoln statue dating from 1934, and Schuyler Colfax statue circa 1887. This University Park site was originally intended for a state university. In 1860 the site was used as a drilling ground for Union troops. After the Civil War the citizens of Indianapolis took up a fund to develop the land into a park. The Federal Building across the way marks the beginning of the National Historic District which continues north through the Marion County Public Library.
World War II Memorial

American Legion Mall

As you cross over North Street from Veteran's Memorial Plaza, you enter the American Legion Mall which stretches for two city blocks. The openness of the mall makes it ideal for outdoor activities. The National Headquarters Building for the American Legion is on the north side of the Mall, built in 1950. Near the southwest corner of the Mall is the Vietnam segment of the Vietnam and Korean Wars Memorial. This was dedicated in 1996. The Vietnam segment is slightly larger than the Korean in order to show the relationship of the number of people killed or missing in action during the two wars. The names of the 1,525 Hoosiers killed in Vietnam appear on the concave side of the Vietnam War Memorial, and the names of the 927 Hoosiers who were killed in action during the Korean War are listed on the concave side of the Korean War Memorial. The Sunken Garden/Cenotaph Square which was built in 1931 is a tribute to Indiana's war dead. This tomb is inscribed with a memorial on the north side to James Bethal Gresham of Evansville, Indiana, who was the first member of the American Expeditionary Forces to lose his life in world War I.

The USS Indianapolis

Named in honor of the capitol city of Indiana, the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was launched in 1931. She began her 13-year career as the Flagship of the Scouting Force, and later, the Scouting Fleet. Prior to World War II, she served several times as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal ship of state. On Sunday, the 30th of July, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was attacked and sunk. Of the 1,197 men in her crew, only 318 were rescued alive. The Memorial is located at the north end of the Canal Water Walk at Senate Avenue and Walnut Street, downtown Indianapolis. The Memorial is an outdoors memorial. Formal dedication took place in 1995. The remaining survivors and the next of kin who did not survive were the guests of honor. More than 6,000 people from all across the country were in attendance. The USS Indianapolis National Memorial joins a list of only 26 other national Memorials in the United States. For further information on tours and locations: (317) 232-7615.
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Last Updated: September 23, 2015