Story by Capt. Stam, Indiana National Guard
Originally published November, 2007
It’s 11 a.m. on a cold, gray day and an icy wind blows steadily from the west while our star-spangled
banner flutters crisply, gently floating towards its perch, lifted atop the harmonious marriage of brass, woodwind and percussion giving life to the national anthem.
|The bronze statue, part of the Hoosier Patriot Memorial, depicts an Indiana Guardsman, kneeling, holding a child in his arms. Photo of memorial at dusk, courtesy of Hoosier Patriot Memorial Web site.|
Underneath a dark cloak of cloth and rope, like a beacon of sunshine waiting patiently to break through the clouds and warm the hearts and heads of the huddled masses, stands an everlasting tribute to the sacrifices of the men and women of the Indiana National Guard.
That was the scene Thursday, November 8, as the Hoosier Patriot Memorial was unveiled in a ceremony at Washington Park East Cemetery, Indianapolis, to a crowd of spectators that included Indianapolis Mayor-Elect Greg Ballard, veterans from as early as World War II, Indiana National Guard troops, a host of civilian leaders and patriots, and several junior and senior high school students from the local area. It came complete with fireworks, a 21-gun salute and the reading of a letter from The White House signed by President George W. Bush.
Five years in the making, the memorial is the brain-child of Bert Pettygrove and is comprised of two monuments in a landscaped plaza against the backdrop of a fountain in Lake Potomac. The “Minuteman,” an etched glass portrait of a colonial militia soldier (the symbol of the National Guard), stands vigilant behind “The Rescue,” a larger-than-life bronze statue of a Soldier on bended knee with a rifle in one hand and a small child in the other.
“The premise to it (the statue) is that this child is in some sort of danger,” said statue sculptor Bill Wolfe. “The Soldier has come in to help rescue the child and take him away from the danger. It gives you the overall feeling of what the Indiana National Guard is about. They’re here to protect us and help us.”
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard, has been involved with the project for the past few years. He was present at the ceremony to speak on behalf of the Guard and to assist in laying a wreath at the foot of the memorial.
"The history of the National Guard dates back to before the Revolutionary War," Maj. Gen. Umbarger. "This memorial symbolizes the bravery and heroism displayed by National Guard men and women since Col. Paul Revere made his famous ride warning of the advancement of British Troops."
To others who were in attendance and future visitors, the meaning of the memorial varies. To Mayor-Elect Ballard, a 23-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, the sculptures and plaza reflect the great pride and patriotism of the citizens of Indiana. To children, it represents a chance to pay homage to those who protect the rights and freedoms that we as Americans enjoy everyday.
“I felt really great because we helped all the veterans to represent them on a statue and show them that we love them and support them every day of our lives,” said Mitchell Kowell, a 7th grade student at the Lynhurst 7th and 8th Grade Center in Indianapolis. “I think everybody here feels the same way.”
Mitchell was one of several students from the Lynhurst Center that was on hand to present a check for $300 that they raised.
Retired Judge Paul H. Buchanan, Jr., a strong supporter of the Indiana National Guard and the Hoosier Patriot Memorial, said the purpose of the memorial is to “remember the past, be relevant to the present, and carry its impact into the future.”
The Indiana National Guard was founded in 1801, 15 years before statehood, and has been called to federal service in every war and armed conflict that has faced our nation since. Many other times the Guard has been called into service to assist with disaster relief or to help maintain law and order.
The Hoosier Patriot Memorial, a continuous work in progress, is funded entirely by private donations. Naming rights and honor bricks are still available for purchase. To become a donor, contact Bert Pettygrove online at www.HoosierPatriotMemorial.com or write to Hoosier Patriot Memorial, ATTN: Bert Pettygrove, 10612 E. Washington St., Indianapolis, Ind., 46229.
See special feature concerning this and other memorials in
the Oct/Nov 2011 digital magazine, "KeepINNG_up with the Indiana National Guard"