Commemorative Plaques

This plaque commemorates the 200-plus years that nurses have served in the military. During the Spanish American War (1898), the Daughters of the American Revolution recruited more than 1,500 women nurses, including Anna Maxwell, dubbed the “American Florence Nightingale.” By the Civil War, nurses were advocating for fresh air, clean environments, and ensuring that wounded and ill soldiers received compassionate care. Famous nurses from the Civil War-era included Dorothea Dix (social reformer for the mentally ill), Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross), Mary Todd Lincoln, and Louisa May Alcott (author of Little Women). More than 59,000 American nurses served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War II. Nurses worked closer to the front lines than they ever had before. Within the “chain of evacuation” established by the Army Medical Department during the war, nurses served under fire in field hospitals and evacuation hospitals, on hospital trains and hospital ships, and as flight nurses on medical transport planes. The skill and dedication of these nurses contributed to the extremely low post-injury mortality rate among American military forces in every theater of the war. Overall, fewer than four percent of the American soldiers who received medical care in the field or underwent evacuation died from wounds or disease during WWII. During the Civil War, one in five died, which was 2.5% of the total U.S. population. The vast majority – 90% – of women serving in Vietnam were nurses. Army nurses began arriving in 1956, and Navy nurses began arriving around 1963.
Donated by the United Spanish War Veterans. The USS Maine was one of the first U.S. battleships to be constructed. The vessel’s destruction in the Cuba Harbor of Havana was a catalyst to the war between the United States and Spain. The loss of the ship was a tremendous shock to the United States since it represented the dominance of naval shipbuilding in our country. “Remember the Maine” became the battle cry of the United States military forces afterward. The Spanish-American War ended Spanish colonial rule in the Americas and resulted in the U.S. acquisition of Guam, Puerto Rico, and sovereignty of the Philippines.
Dedicated to the defenders of Pearl Harbor, this plaque commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base, on the island of O’ahu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, at 7:55 a.m., local time. There were 2,403 American casualties. A day later, war was declared on Japan and the United States entered World War II. A Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony is held every December 7 at the War Memorial Center.
This plaque honors the major role the Fourth Division played in pivotal combat operations during World War II. The 4th Marine Division was formally activated on August 14, 1943. In 13 months, the division made four major amphibious assaults—in the battles of Kwajalein (Roi-Namur), Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima—and suffered more than 17,000 casualties. The division was awarded two Presidential Unit Citations and a Navy Unit Commendation and was deactivated November 28, 1945.

Dedicated to all U.S. military veterans who served in the fight for freedom against the communist forces on the Korean Peninsula. The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when some 75,000 soldiers from the North Korean People’s Army advanced across the 38th parallel, the boundary between the Soviet-backed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the north and the pro-Western Republic of Korea to the south. This invasion was the first military action of the Cold War. By July, American troops had entered the war on South Korea’s behalf as a war against the forces of international communism itself. Learn more about the Korean War with our poster series in the south hallway on the 4th floor of the War Memorial Center.
The U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II memorial plaque was dedicated on September 3, 1988, to the memory of the 374 officers and 3131 men who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving on the 52 submarines that were lost during WWII. Wisconsin’s Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company manufactured 28 submarines for the U.S. Navy in World War II.

The USS Wisconsin was completed just before the final battleship, the USS Missouri, and commissioned April 16, 1944, and was decommissioned in 1991. The USS Wisconsin served with honor in the Pacific during World War II, in the Korean War, and in the Persian Gulf. The second U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of our state, the USS Wisconsin was the fourth and final Iowa-class battleship and is now preserved at the Nauticus Maritime Center in Norfolk, Va.

This memorial is dedicated to all officers and enlisted men of C Company, 18th Infantry Battalion, United States Marine Corps Reserve, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were called to serve their country during the Korean War 1950–1953.

Dedicated to the memory of those who served on the ship from 1923 to 1944. The USS Milwaukee was an Omaha-class light cruiser built for the United States Navy during the 1920s. It was the third ship to be named after Milwaukee. The ship spent most of her early career assigned to the Asiatic and Battle Fleets. In 1941 she was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol until she was refitted in New York in late 1941. The USS Milwaukee escorted a troop convoy to the Pacific in early 1942 before returning to the South Atlantic where she patrolled for German commerce raiders and blockade runners. In 1944 she was temporarily transferred to the Soviet Navy and commissioned as Murmansk. The ship was returned by the Soviets in 1949.


The first USS Milwaukee was a monitor (ironclad), which was sunk in 1865. The fifth and final USS Milwaukee, a littoral combat ship, was built in Marinette, Wisconsin, and was commissioned in Milwaukee’s Veterans Park in November 2015. The bell from the second USS Milwaukee is on display at the top of the stairs on the 4th floor. Learn more about all five USS Milwaukee ships in the display in the east hallway of the 4th floor of the War Memorial Center.

A PT (short for patrol torpedo) boat was a torpedo-armed fast attack craft used by the U.S. Navy in World War II. It was small, fast and inexpensive to build, valued for its maneuverability and speed. In forward areas, the PT boat tenders served as a mothership for PTs, supplying gasoline, supplies, and equipment in limited quantities, and also supplied torpedoes, ammunition as well as basic engineering and electrical repair work. Tenders also served as a mess, furnished fresh water showers and generated additional electrical supply for moored boats. In later war years, they had more complete overhaul shops, A-frames and/or towed floating dry-docks. PT bases were numerous, of multiple sizes, and constantly changing and moving. A base was typically divided into functional units. Some bases might be manned with a single person with 100 pounds of supplies, while others might have a complement of a thousand officers and men with tens of thousands of tons of equipment. Bases comprised functional component groups with an individual component serving a specific function. Such functions included administration, radio station, petroleum, ordnance, recreation or camp building.

Dedicated to the honor and memory of all Wisconsin citizens who have or will ever serve with the First Marine Division. Activated on February 1, 1941, it is the oldest and largest active-duty division in the United States Marine Corps, representing a combat-ready force of more than 19,000 men and women. Nicknamed “The Old Breed,” the First Marine Division is one of three active-duty divisions in the Marine Corps today and is a multi-role, expeditionary ground combat force. 

Donated by U.S. Navy Recruiting Command–Milwaukee, the plaque was dedicated June 14, 1979, to the memory of John and Eleanor Schneider of Milwaukee and their ten sons who served honorably in the U.S. Navy.