Milwaukee County War Memorial

WMC’s 60th Anniversary and Veterans Day 2017

War Memorial Center

Veterans Day 2017 marks the start of the War Memorial Center’s 60th Anniversary Year. Here is the brief history of the making of this iconic Milwaukee building.

1945

The decision is made to build a memorial to honor Milwaukee’s war dead.

1946

Plans are announced for a $5 million dollar memorial complex for veterans, art, and music. Volunteers began going door-to-door with drill teams and Legionnaires. Billboards sprung up all over town. There was even an airplane skywriter.

1947

More than $2 million was raised from 70,000 donors. Plans for the music hall were dropped, but the veteran memorial and the art gallery continued.

1953

After a 7-year struggle the Milwaukee County Board approves use of the lakefront park land for the project.

1955

Construction begins on the building designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. He also designed the St. Louis Arch.

1957

On Veterans Day, November 11, the War Memorial opens to much fanfare. It will be recognized as Milwaukee’s first piece of modern architecture.

Since our opening 60 years ago this month, this has been a place to pause and reflect on the tremendous sacrifice of those who served and the price of freedom.

Our promise and mission continue six decades later: “Honor the Dead—Serve the Living”

Important Dates in November Military History

November is also a significant military month. Check out these dates in history.

November 1, 1941

The Coast Guard was transferred form the Treasury Department to the Department of Navy. In 1967 it was transferred to the Department of Transportation. In 2003 it went to the Department of Homeland Security. In 2006 it was decided that upon declaration of war, or when directed by the president or by congress, the Coast Guard will operate under the Department of the Navy. Got that?

November 2, 1962

President John Kennedy announced the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

November 4, 1862

The Gatling Gun was invented. The rapid fire machine gun changed warfare forever.

November 10, 1775

The Marine Corps was established as part of the Department of Navy. In 1779 the Corps became a separate service.

November 11 each year

America and many countries of the world celebrate Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day.

November 13, 1942

One of the great tragedies of WWII occurred when the 5 Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, were lost at sea when their ship the USS Juneau, was sunk. The event led the Navy to prohibit close relatives from serving on the same ship.

November 19, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln gave his now famous Gettysburg Address. Many historians consider it the most significant speech ever given by an American president. It lasted less than two minutes. Political leaders please take note.

November 22, 1963

President Kennedy was assassinated. The controversy surrounding his death remains to this day even as more of the sealed documents of the investigation are being released to the public.

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