MONUMENTS AND STATUES IN MILWAUKEE
For the 2015 GAPP-Project "Monuments in the USA" the German students did a lot of preparatory work for statues, monuments and memorials both in Milwaukee and in the U.S. capital during their stopover at Washington D.C . at the end of their program. Within this project they visited some of the most interesting sites in Milwaukee depicting people or sites of local, regional or national importance. The tour around these monuments, dealing with personalities or buildings in times of war and peace, presented in a nearly chronological view, is going to make people think about which people or events had some impact on people's lives.
Leif Erikson, son of Erik, was the first European on North American soil, sailing from Iceland to this continent in around 1000 A.D. He sailed on his way back home from Greenland, where Norway's King Olaf I had sent him to Christianize the natives, but sailed off course and landed at what is today Nova Scotia, and which he called Vinland.
Father Jacques Marquette (June1, 1637 - May 18, 1675), a French Jesuit missionary, was the first white man in Upper Midwest, and the first to come down the Mississippi. With Louis Joliet, a French-Canadian explorer, they traveled down the Misssissippi via Fox River and, portaging their canoes about two miles through marsh and oak plains, the Wisconsin River near Prairie de Chien. On the way back, they learned from natives that there was a shorter route back via the Illinois River towards the Great Lakes. They reached Lake Michigan near the site of modern-day Chicago.
Salomon Juneau (1793-1856) was a fur trader, land speculator, and politician who helped to found the city of Milwaukee. In 1832 he started learning English and initiated the naturalization and citizenship process. He built the first store, started the first newspaper in Wisconsin, the Milwaukee Sentinel, in 1837 and was the first Mayor of Milwaukee from 1846 until 1847.
The Washington Monument depicts George Washington (1732-1799) at the age of 43. Dedicated in 1885, this monument was the first public monument in Milwaukee. The 43-year-old Washington is shown wearing an exact copy of the Commander-in-Chief uniform of the Continental Army. A lady and a child are looking upward, holding an open book.
Friedrich Wilhem August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben (1730-1794), a Prussian officer in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), found himself unemployed when the Prussian army was reduced to peacetime levels after that war. In 1776, he was attached to Washington's headquarters and continued to improve the army in the American War of Revolution (1775-1783). Upon Washington's recommendation, Congress appointed Steuben as a Major General and the Inspector General of the Continental Army. Steuben speeded up firing by new firing regulations, developed a program of camp sanitation, improved army training and prepared "Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States", also known as the "Blue Book." After the war he helped to develop the defense plan of the new nation. In 1784 he became an American citizen.
Today the German-American Steuben Parade is held in many cities to keep the German traditions alive. Von Steuben is still regarded as one of the most important German Americans, because his training of the young American troops made victory against the British forces possible. Thus his work helped in gaining independence for the United States of America.
General Tadeusz Kosciuszko (1746-1817) was an idealistic person directing all his energies to the cause of freedom in America and in his native Poland. Kosciuszko admired the Declaration of Independence and discovered in this single, concise document everything in which he truly believed. Thus he and Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), became the best of friends. As he was a skilled engineer, Kosciuszko was commissioned as Colonel of Engineers by the Continental Congress on October 18, 1776, and began his outstanding service of fortifying battle sites, many of which became turning points in America's fight for independence against the British. He, for example, succeeded in building fortifications that helped to defeat the British in the decisive Battle of Saratoga in 1777, which was a turning point in the Americans' war against the British troops coming from Canada. Returning to Poland in 1784 to help his own country win independence from the surrounding European powers Kosciuszko was wounded and went back to Philadelphia and America, which he considered his "second home" - a hero of America and Poland.
Dedicated on June 28, 1898, the Civil War Memorial is located on West Wisconsin Avenue, not far from Marquette University. The inscription reads "To Those Who Fought in the War for the Union 1861-1865". Indeed, in the Civil War there were over 600,000 deaths, about 2 percent of the US population, more casualties than in all other wars combined in which Americans were involved since then.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the President who saved the Union - also called "The First American" - "One of Nature's Masterful Great Men" - "The Man of the People". The artwork shows a young beardless Lincoln looking down. The granite pedestal's west face reads: "With malice toward none ... and with all nations".
The Pabst Theater, located opposite the Milwaukee City Hall, was opened in 1895, after the new German City Theater had been destroyed in a fire. Friedrich Pabst (1836-1904), a German-American brewer, one of the so-called beer barons in Milwaukee, founded the Pabst Brewing Company.
The Goethe-Schiller Monument is a public artwork by Ernst Rietschel, a recasting of the 1857 Goethe-Schiller Monument in Weimar, Germany, erected by the German citizens of Wisconsin and dedicated to the city on June 14, 1908. The plaque on the left side reads: Was du ererbt von Deinen Vätern hast, erwirb es, um es zu besitzen - (J.W. v. Goethe, 1749-1832), the one on the right side reads: Wer nichts waget, der darf nichts hoffen - Fr.v.Schiller (1759-1805).
The Germania Building was built in downtown Milwaukee in 1896. It is a unique Beaux Art or Classical Revival architecture presenting a "Pickelhaube" roof. The building is in the US National Register of Historic Places. Milwaukee's City Hall is in the background.
The VA (Veterans' Administration) or Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee dates back to the Civil War when the first asylum of its kind in the world was built as the first-ever national soldiers' home to provide medical care for discharged members of the Union Army - it was authorized by Abraham Lincoln. Nearby soldiers' homes provided long-term housing and medical care for Civil War veterans, including U.S.Colored Troops. Today the cemetery has 37,661 internments, second only to Arlington National Cemetery, but it is closed to new internments now.
In the Holler House, the Home of the Oldest Sanctioned Alleys in the Nation, where bowling has a tradition over generations, the wall is decorated with the American flag and a newspaper article about the end of the Great War (1914-18).
General Douglas McArthur (1880-1964) was a five-star general and Chief of Staff of the US Army in the 1930s. Fighting in World War I on the Western Front he was awarded the Medal of Honor. In Wolrd War II he officially accepted Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945, aboard the USS Missouri. His parents lived in Milwaukee for some time, and he listed a hotel in Milwaukee as his official residence during Wolrd War II.
Gertie the Duck - Symbol of Hope - lived under the Wisconsin Ave. Bridge during Wold War II. Gertie diverted attention from the war as the the world watched and awaited the arrival of the Mother's ducklings. The City of Milwaukee even delayed reconstruction of the bridge while she was hatching 6 chicks - Black Bill, Dee Dee, Freddie, Millie, Pee Wee, and Rosie. Gertie was dedicated in 1997, five more bronze statues followed in 1999.