A Place of Honor – Carmel Veterans Memorial
In the heart of Carmel City Center at 3rd Avenue SW and City Center Drive, a larger than life statue soars amidst a semi-circle of flags. It depicts two kneeling soldiers, a man and a woman, who in the words of sculptor Bill Wolfe appear to be “on a battlefield and have just picked up the American flag and are moving forward. The wind actually becomes one of the forces they have to battle.”
While the nine foot bronze has become a recognizable part of the city’s landscape, it wasn’t so long ago that it was just a possibility. In 1999 Mayor Brainard first presented the idea of a Veterans Memorial to the local commanders of the American Legion post, VFW post and the president of the Military Officers Association (MOAA). After securing a not-for-profit status in 2002, the Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial Corporation was formed with LCol Bill Ensign, USAF (RET) elected as president.
The initial order of business was site selection. Originally it may have been near the present day gazebo, but according to Ensign, “the current location in front of the reflecting pool was ideal since it could not sustain a building of any kind and it was FREE.” Architects and sculptors were then invited to submit their designs, with Terre Haute artist Bill Wolfe eventually chosen.
All funds were raised via donations from businesses, individuals and the sale of more than 700 brick pavers. One plaque at the entrance of the plaza commemorates major donors, while a second plaque recognizes the volunteers who made it happen.
On October 12, 2006 the unveiling and dedication took place. As stated by Mayor Brainard, “This memorial statue commemorates the huge sacrifice our armed services personnel have made to protect this great country. It will forever be a landmark in Carmel, inviting all who pass to pause and remember those who served our nation.”
Since that time Carmel has celebrated Memorial Day as well as Veterans Day at or near the monument. Traditions have become established, such as carnations which are delivered by Carmel’s 7th graders to the base of the statue every Memorial Day. Visitors have especially increased since the relocation of the Farmers Market east of the park in 2011, encouraging many more to explore the Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial plaza.
There you’ll find eight flags flying at the site, one for each of the uniformed military services, the POW/MIA flag, the U.S. flag and the Indiana flag. Six plaques surround the pedestal with inspirational quotes from Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, Eisenhower and Reagan, philosopher Edmund Burke and aviator Amelia Earhart. With the reflecting pool beyond, the Memorial provides a serene oasis to honor all those who fought for our freedom.
Thanks to Bill Ensign and his documented history of the Carmel Clay Veterans Memorial.
Photo courtesy of Blaze Communications
Written by Jackie Holloway