5 Milwaukee War Memorials to Visit This Veteran’s Day

This Veteran’s Day, take the time to honor those who have fought for our country by learning more about the historical figures behind the memorials around Milwaukee.

1. World War I Flagpole in Juneau Park

JUNEAU PARK

A report in the Milwaukee Sentinel on June 2, 1927, said there was a debate about the best location to place a monument to honor soldiers and sailors for World War I. In the meantime, the Milwaukee Chapter of the Service Star Legion, an organization of war mothers, chose a “doughboy” statue design. However, the Milwaukee Art Commission rejected the selection, and suggested hosting a contest to pick an artist to design the monument.

The members of the Service Star Legion ended up choosing Benjamin Franklin Hawkins’ flagpole design, although many still preferred the “doughboy” statue instead, according to the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission.

Developments of the flagpole moved quickly and the groundbreaking ceremony was held on Aug. 1, 1934.  Once the project was fully complete, a dedication ceremony was held on Nov. 11, 1934. The flagpole continues to honor the 750 Milwaukee soldiers who lost their lives in World War I.

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2. The Red Arrow Park Memorial

920 N. WATER ST. 

The Red Arrow monument is located in the middle of Red Arrow Park, and features a red granite monument shaped in a Red Arrow insignia, which is eight feet high and four feet wide. Underneath is a gray granite base.

There is also a steel flagpole with a bronze ball at the top, and two bronze plaques on gray granite boulders.

The Red Arrow monument was placed in honor of the 32nd Infantry Division of the United States, also known as the 32nd Red Arrow Division. The red arrow symbolizes the 32nd division penetrated every German line of defense that it faced during World War I.

According to the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission, the division suffered a total of 13,261 casualties, including 2,250 men killed in action and 11,011 wounded. This is the third highest number of deaths among U.S. Army divisions during World War I.

3. Department of Wisconsin American Legion Birthplace

MICHIGAN ST. 

The American Legion, Inc. is a veterans’ organization formed by members of the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I. Today, there are 55 departments, with one each in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, France, Mexico and the Philippines.

On Aug. 8, 1937 at 4:30 p.m., this bronze memorial was dedicated and installed on the exterior wall of the We Energies Public Service Building on Michigan Street. This monument is part of a city-wide celebration for the creation of the Department of Wisconsin American Legion on Sept. 3, 1919, 13 days before the Congressional charter.

4. Victorious Charge Memorial

W. WISCONSIN AVE.

The Victorious Charge memorial is a bronze sculpture depicting four Union soldiers in action during the Civil War designed and created by John S. Conway in 1898.

In the sculpture, one of the soldiers has fallen and supports himself on his left arm, while holding a piece of the flag staff in his right hand. Another soldier holds the flag up while stepping over the dying soldier. An officer with a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other leans forward, while another holds a bayonet.

The memorial is located on the Court of Honor on West Wisconsin Avenue. It’s just under 10 feet tall and sits on a granite pedestal.

5. General Douglas MacArthur Statue

VETERAN’S PARK

The General Douglas MacArthur statue is a nearly 10-foot tall bronze statue that sits on a concrete base and is painted white.

Milwaukee first decided to honor General MacArthur on Sept. 17, 1945, when John Koerner, the 4th Ward Alderman at the time, proposed an idea to rename the square east of the Milwaukee County Courthouse “MacArthur Square.”

The park was dedicated on April 28, 1951 during the general’s homecoming celebration. General Douglas MacArthur was chosen to be the figure in the statue after World War II, because he was raised in Milwaukee and helped to successfully recapture the Philippines from the Japanese.

According to the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission, MacArthur joined and stayed with the military after graduating from West Point High School. In September 1945, he was the one to officially accept Japan’s surrender on behalf of the United States.

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Skyler Chun is an editorial intern at Milwaukee Magazine. She is currently a sophomore at Marquette University studying Journalism and Digital Media.