Honoring Victims of Abuse in Indianapolis: A Monumental Tribute

Indiana is a state with a proud military history, and monuments throughout the state honor generations of Hoosiers who have defended freedom around the world. From the Indiana War Memorial Museum to the Veterans Memorial Square and the Medal of Honor Memorial, visitors can pay tribute to those who have served. But there is another group of people who deserve to be remembered: victims of abuse. In Indianapolis, a monument dedicated to one such victim, 16-year-old Likens, stands as a reminder of the tragedy that befell her and serves as a call to action for all of us. The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is the first of its kind in the country.

It was carved in January 1862 after the Battle of Rowlett Station in Munfordville, Kentucky. Private August Bloedner sculpted the monument to commemorate the burial of his companions from the 32nd Indiana Infantry, a regiment comprised exclusively of German Americans who fell in battle. Below the relief panel, the monument is inscribed in a German script similar to a fraktur, with a brief description of the battle and the names, dates and places of birth of the fallen. In this sense, the monument symbolizes the situation of German immigrants to the United States in the 1860s who lived in two worlds. It also serves as a reminder that we must never forget those who have suffered abuse and injustice.

The inscription on the monument reads: “In memory of all victims of abuse and injustice.”The federal government erected a series of monuments dedicated to Confederate soldiers who died in former prisoner-of-war camps in Northern states. Of the hundreds of metal and stone monuments found in cemeteries, battlefields, and parks dedicated to soldiers of the bloodiest war in U. S. history, the 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is one of only a few erected while the war was still in full swing. From the 1890s until about 1920, many Northern state legislatures funded the installation of monuments in national cemeteries, where large numbers of their dead were buried.

After reburying them in the cemetery, these 11 soldiers received individual headstones, which caused the meaning of the carving to change from being a tombstone that marked several soldiers’ remains to becoming a monument commemorating their sacrifice. For example, in 1999, the African-American Civil War Memorial opened in Washington D. C.'s U Street neighborhood. The federal government also built a small number of monuments at sites where there were prisoners of war in former Confederate states, such as Salisbury National Cemetery (North Carolina).No state has more monuments dedicated to veterans than Indiana's capital city Indianapolis. In fact, no city in America has more area dedicated to veterans than Indianapolis.

The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument stands as an important reminder that we must never forget those who have suffered abuse and injustice.

Cédric Stimson
Cédric Stimson

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