May is National Military Appreciation Month and The National Conference Center has compiled a list of some of the less known but worth visiting top national military monuments:
1. Sergeant Reckless monument, Triangle, VA—Located next to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Semper Fidelis Memorial Park, this statue commemorates the little mare who was a decorated soldier with two Purple Hearts and a Good Conduct medal. During the Korean War, this horse served in numerous combat actions, carrying supplies and ammunition, and was also used to evacuate wounded. Learning each supply route after only a couple of trips, she often traveled to deliver supplies to the troops on her own, without benefit of a handler. The highlight of her nine-month military career came in late March 1953 during fighting around Vegas Hill when, in a single day, she made 51 solo trips to resupply multiple front line units. She was wounded in combat twice, given the battlefield rank of corporal in 1953, and then a promotion to sergeant in 1954, several months after the war ended. To read more, visit www.sgtreckless.com.
2. Jefferson Davis Monument, Fairview, KY—Built from Kentucky limestone at the birthplace of Jefferson Davis, U.S. Secretary of War and later president of the confederacy, this monument is the tallest unreinforced concrete structure in the world. No steel was used to reinforce the concrete. As one pour was completed, large chunks of limestone were left projecting up to connect it to the next pour above. It is also the tallest concrete obelisk in the world; all of the taller obelisks are constructed with blocks of stone. It is the third tallest obelisk in the world. Guests can ride the 351-foot monument to the top for a bird’s eye view.
3. National Memorial Arch, Valley Forge, PA–The United States National Memorial Arch, located at the intersection of Outerline Drive and Gulph Road, was erected to commemorate the arrival of General George Washington and his Continental Army into Valley Forge. It was designed by Paul Philippe Cret, being a simplified version of the Triumphal Arch of Titus in Rome (A.D. 81) which marked the capture of Jerusalem by Emperor Titus in A.D. 70. In the classical tradition, the triumphal arch of one or three openings was erected to honor Generals or Emperors, so that this memorial arch with its single opening is classically proper as a national tribute to General Washington and the army he led.
4. The Indiana State Soldiers and Sailors Monument—Indianapolis, Indiana. A 284 ft 6 in (86.72 m) neoclassical monument built on Monument Circle, a circular, brick-paved street that intersects Meridian and Market streets in the center of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The monument is the first in the United States to be dedicated to the common soldier. It is also the largest outdoor memorial and the largest of its kind in Indiana. It was designed by German architect Bruno Schmitz and built over a thirteen-year period, between 1888 and 1901. The monument’s original purpose was to honor Hoosiers who were veterans of the American Civil War; however, it is also a tribute to Indiana’s soldiers who served during the American Revolutionary War, territorial conflicts that partially led to the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Spanish-American War. In the years since its public dedication on May 15, 1902, the monument has become an iconic symbol of Indianapolis, the state capital of Indiana. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 13, 1973.
5. The USS South Dakota Memorial—Sioux Falls, South Dakota. May seem like an unlikely place to commemorate a famous battleship. The USS South Dakota (BB-57) was launched June 7th, 1941 and commissioned March 20, 1942. The ship was part of a state-of-the-art class of heavily armed battleships. She served in the Pacific, present for nearly all of the major naval battles of the Pacific theater of war. The US Navy wanted to keep the enemy from gaining too much information about its top battleships, so the South Dakota was referred to in press releases as “Battleship X” until October of 1943. The most decorated warship of World War II, the South Dakota was decommissioned shortly after the war in 1947. The USS South Dakota Battleship Memorial features a concrete wall that mimics the actual size and shape of the battleship. Although the ship was sold for scrap in the 1960s, several pieces of its original equipment have been acquired for display. In addition, the museum on the site features pictures, models, and reading about the history of the battleship.
6. The great monument mix-up– Kingstree, SC and York, Maine both have Civil War monuments but with a mix-up. Around the 20th century, as veterans of the Civil War began dying off at a large rate, there was sudden activity to erect monuments to honor these veterans. On May 10, 1910, Kingstree, South Carolina unveiled their Confederate soldier statue next to the county courthouse. The statue was the result of the community raising significant funds to hire a noted Italian sculptor. However, there was a gasp of astonishment when the statue was unveiled and the crowd realized it was the image of a Union soldier. It turns out that the sculptor produced many statues for towns all across the country and he had accidentally switched the Kingstree statue with the one intended for a Union memorial in York, Maine. In York, the error was discovered before the unveiling but the frugal New Englanders didn’t want to pay for a second statue. At the time, neither town knew where their intended statue had gone and no one wanted to pay the cost of rectifying the situation. Today, both statues remain in place.