Cleveland’s Veterans’ Memorial Plaza is impressive. Also known as the Cleveland Mall, this long public park in downtown is surrounded by towering government buildings and leads to the shores of Lake Erie. In the center of the Plaza stands The Fountain of Eternal Life, which honors Clevelanders who died or were declared missing in military service. The 46-foot tall structure depicts a man escaping from the flames of war, standing upon the earth below, and reaching skyward towards eternal peace.
The Fountain of Eternal Life has also been referred to as the War Memorial Fountain and Peace Arising from the Flames of War. It was designed by Cleveland Institute of Arts graduate Marshall Fredericks and dedicated in 1964. Though it was originally commissioned and installed as a memorial to the veterans of WWII and the Korean War, the sculpture has undergone several rededications and now serves as a memorial for Greater Clevelanders who have lost their lives or been declared missing in military service from 1899 to present.
In the circular fountain pool surrounding the sculpture, there are four granite slabs, each representing a different region of Earth - Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Each slab depicts conflict in different forms: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. beasts, signifying that struggle has plagued the planet since the dawn of the human race. The aspirational pose of the man rising from the earth symbolizes a yearning for peace and transcendence. On the granite rim surrounding the fountain are bronze plates with the names of more than 5,000 Clevelanders fallen in the line of duty between 1899 and 2014.
The memorial allows visitors a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made by fellow countrymen in the name of freedom. Today, the sculpture is maintained by The Greater Cleveland Veterans Memorial organization.