Before the Armistice of 11 November 1918 there was a public discussion of a fitting memorial to the Indiana servicemen in the “War to End All Wars.” A joint effort of the State of Indiana, Marion County, and the City of Indianapolis resulted, attracting the newly (1919) formed American Legion to the city and making its home here. The joint effort was also created, not just a memorial, but an entire plaza of five city blocks complete with the massive World War Memorial, the Veterans’ Plaza and the Legion Mall with the American Legion National Headquarters. This complex of monuments, gardens, buildings, and fountains was designed by Walker & Weeks Architects from Cleveland, Ohio and built throughout the writer’s childhood.
Inside the War Memorial is an extensive military museum and the dramatic Shrine Room. The names of all Indiana men in the Navy, Army, and Marine Corps are on placards lining the marble staircases leading to the shrine. The names include three Vonneguts, all first cousins of Kurt Sr. : Army 1st Lt. Arthur; Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Erwin George; and Navy Boatswains Mate Ralph Clemens. The World War Memorial, like the Monument on the Circle, despite size and prominent location, is absent from the writings of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The Memorial was dedicated 11 November 1933, on Kurt’s eleventh birthday.
Cover image: Rwaicukauski, CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.