Exploring the Historic Monuments and Memorials of Indianapolis

Indianapolis is renowned for its abundance of historic monuments and memorials, more than any other city in the United States (outside of Washington, DC). From the iconic Soldiers and Sailors Monument to the American Legion Shopping Center, there are plenty of ways to honor those who have fought for our freedom and be grateful for their sacrifices. Let's take a tour of these monuments and memorials to commemorate Independence Day, Memorial Day, or any day in The Circle City. At 284 and a half feet tall, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is an iconic symbol of Indianapolis and Indiana.

It was built to honor those who served in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Border War, and the Spanish-American War. The Indiana World War Memorial and Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday at 9 a.m., featuring a 30,000-square-foot museum that showcases American military history from the War of Independence to the present. University Park is located just south of the World War Memorial building. During the Civil War, it was used as a training ground for Union troops. After the war ended, Indianapolis came together to create a fund to turn it into a park.

The American Legion Shopping Center spans two blocks in downtown Indianapolis, with the national and state headquarters of the Legion on either side. Several cities competed to host the National Headquarters, but Indianapolis won due to its proposed idea for the Indiana War Memorial Plaza in the 1920s. The Korean and Vietnam War memorials are located inside the American Legion Mall. The side-by-side cylinders measure 12.5 feet wide and 25 feet high, with Vietnam's cylinder being slightly taller than its counterpart. This symbolizes its larger size, longer lifespan, and higher number of casualties in the war.

One side of each cylinder contains engraved letters from Hoosier soldiers to family, friends, and loved ones, as well as narrative sketches of each war. The other side has engraved names of Hoosier soldiers lost in each war. The World War II memorial is located just south of the National Headquarters. It is significantly larger than the monuments to Vietnam and Korea, recognizing its longer duration and higher number of casualties. This monument also has engraved excerpts from Hoosier soldier's notes, as well as a summary of America's involvement in the war. The Congressional Medal of Honor Monument is located at the north end of Indy Canal in White River State Park.

It consists of 27 curved glass walls that measure between seven and ten feet in height. These walls represent 15 conflicts and 3,456 men and women who have received the Medal of Honor. Every nightfall, recorded stories about these men and women or about their conflicts are played. The USS Indianapolis Memorial is located at the north end of Indy Canal as well. After 50 years of dreaming and exchanging ideas, survivors of this sunken ship finally raised enough funds to build this monument.

On one side are engraved names of its cruise company and passengers who formed its final crew. This monument has been recognized as one of the most outstanding monuments in the world and has come to symbolize both Indianapolis and Indiana. The semi-cylindrical monuments for Korea and Vietnam are part of American Legion Mall and opened in 1996. Located in Monument Circle's heart is Indiana's official monument honoring those who served in the War of Independence, War of 1812, Mexican War, Civil War, Border Wars, and Spanish-American War. It is crowned by a statue of Victory holding a sword in one hand and a torch in another.

Cédric Stimson
Cédric Stimson

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