Honoring the Fallen: Exploring Monuments Dedicated to War Victims in Indianapolis

Indiana is a state with a long-standing military history, and this is evident when you explore the Indiana War Memorial Museum, take in the tattered flag of the 15th Indiana Infantry Regiment, or listen to the stories of courage at the Medal of Honor Memorial. Visiting these monuments allows us to pay tribute to generations of Hoosiers who have defended freedom around the world. One such monument is the 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument, which was sculpted by Private August Bloedner to commemorate the burial of his comrades from the 32nd Indiana Infantry Regiment. This regiment was made up entirely of German Americans who had fallen in battle. The Veteran's Memorial Plaza, located in seven blocks in the Memorial District, honors all Indiana veterans.

The 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument is one of the few military monuments or memorials erected while the war was still ongoing. This week in 1863, General John Hunt Morgan led his Confederate soldiers to southern Indiana, in the largest Indiana incursion during the Civil War. The semi-cylindrical monuments of Korea and Vietnam, which are part of the American Legion Mall, were inaugurated in 1996 to commemorate those who were killed or missing in combat in these two wars. The monument is inscribed with a brief description of the battle and lists the names, dates and places of birth of those who fell. Indianapolis is home to more monuments dedicated to veterans than any other city in Indiana, and no other city in the country has more area dedicated to veterans than Indianapolis.

In May 1861, a month after Fort Sumter was fired upon, the state legislature passed a resolution affirming Indiana's neutrality in the war. There are hundreds of metal and stone monuments found in cemeteries, battlefields and parks dedicated to soldiers who fought in this bloody war, with the 32nd Indiana Infantry Monument being one of the first. In 1999, an African-American Civil War Memorial opened in Washington D. C.'s U Street neighborhood. According to its inscription, all those commemorated were born in Germany except for Carl Keiffer, who was born on the border between France and Germany.

Thousands of fallen soldiers were buried in isolated graves outside cemeteries due to wartime demands. In accordance with Indiana's mandate, visitors must wear face coverings inside the Indiana War Memorial and Museum.

Cédric Stimson
Cédric Stimson

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