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A live weekly radio adventure through Indiana history with host Nelson Price. Airs live on Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET at WICR 88.7 in Indianapolis. 

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May 27, 2023

World War II monuments, memorials and sites across Indiana

On Memorial Day weekend, Hoosier History Live will spotlight landmarks across the state that honor Hoosiers involved in what's been called the most consequential episode of the 20th Century. We also will salute sites in Indiana associated in various other ways with World War II.

In particular, we will focus on monuments, memorials and other sites that are not well known statewide, have been developed in recent years or are distinctive in special ways. They range from a women's memorial in Kokomo to a massive cargo ship (it could carry more than a dozen tanks as well as hundreds of troops) that can be toured in Evansville.

As our guide, World War II historian and chaplain Ron May will join Nelson to share insights about the sites, which are featured in his new, photo-filled book, World War II: Indiana Landmarks. Ron also is the author of a three-volume series of books, Our Service Our Stories, that feature his interviews with World War II veterans from Indiana. He has been our guest several times, most recently during the holiday season last year to share poignant stories about ordeals endured during yuletide seasons of the war by soldiers overseas.

This time, the memorials, monuments and sites that Ron will discuss will include the Blue/Gold Star Family Memorial at the Howard County Veterans Memorial Park in Kokomo. The memorial features bronze sculptures of a family (a husband, wife and young daughter) looking at yet another bronze sculpture. "The object of their focus, standing 35 feet in front of them, is their grown son/brother in a military uniform," Ron writes in his new book. "His right arm extends out in front of him, and his open hand reveals the desire to connect with his family." During World War II, about 16 million Americans left their families to serve "in places far from their loved ones," Ron notes. More than 450,000 of them did not return home alive.

In 2021, five years after the Blue/Gold Star Memorial was erected, another distinctive memorial was dedicated in Kokomo. The Indiana Women's Legacy Memorial near the Howard County Courthouse consists of three bronze statues of women on pedestals: an armed soldier who is kneeling; an aviator holding her helmet, and a "Rosie the Riveter". The latter statue, as Ron puts it in World War II Indiana Landmarks, symbolizes "all women who have worked on the homefront to support their families and nation."

In Munster, Ind., the Community Veterans Memorial is a nine-acre park that features both a Pacific War Monument and a European War Monument honoring the military who served in those theaters of WWII. Both monuments in the park (which is on land donated by a local hospital) are dramatic. The European War Monument includes a bronze sculpture of a military radioman calling out for his comrades on Omaha Beach. The Pacific War Monument features a Marine reaching for the hand of an airman trapped in the wreckage of his crashed plane.

Among the other sites that we will spotlight during our show are:

  • A massive, amphibious LST cargo ship docked in Evansville that can be toured by the public. The LST (an acronym for "Landing Ship, Tank") was large enough to carry 117 officers and enlisted men, plus 163 landing troops, according to Ron's book. In addition, more than a dozen tanks and trucks could be packed in the ship's cargo hold. More than 170 LSTs were built in Evansville during World War II; the ship docked there on the Ohio River is one of only two surviving ones in the country.

  • In the town of Portland in eastern Indiana, a site in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. The site houses the Museum of the Soldier, which tells the stories of local residents who sacrificed during WWII. They included a Portland resident who was among the first fatalities on D-Day in 1944; his Purple Heart and personal letters are displayed at the museum.

  • The Avon World War II Memorial Park, which features a statue of a soldier in a field uniform standing on a granite pyramid. According to Ron's book, the soldier's face bears the likeness of a war hero from the Avon area. Dedicated in 2013, the memorial park was placed near an Avon elementary school so students from subsequent generations will become aware of the sacrifices of Hoosiers during World War II.

Our show will not focus on some well-known landmarks, including the Indiana War Memorial and the USS Indianapolis Memorial in Indianapolis, so we can spotlight sites that typically don't receive statewide attention.

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Roadtrip: Spring Mill State Park

Guest Roadtripper and historic reenactor Danny Russel of Famous Hoosiers suggests a visit to Spring Mill State Park near Mitchell in southern Indiana on Indiana Highway 60.  

Spring Mill State Park is a 1,358-acre state park, and has a Pioneer Village, the Gus Grissom Memorial and the accompanying Gemini 3 space capsule, a nature center, several caves, campgrounds, and, of course, the historic grist mill.

"President Lincoln" will be phoning from Spring Mill surrounded by a slew of soldiers dressed in blue and gray battling it out, reminding us of the Civil War, our nation's most vital conflict. Most folks are aware that Honest Abe grew up in the Hoosier State (age 7-21), but many do not know that the grist mill at Spring Mill State Park was built during his childhood in Indiana. We expect to hear some inspiring words from President Lincoln on Saturday.


Trivia prizes and southside restaurant sought

Would your business or organization like to offer prizes for our trivia on air question? Or, are you a restaurant on the southside of Indy, or near the University of Indianapolis, and open on Saturdays at 1 pm? Would you like to host Hoosier History Live guests for lunch after the show on Saturday? Contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org for details.  


Spring pilgrimage tours the treasures of far eastern Indiana

Hoosier History Live host and historian Nelson Price provided commentary on a motor coach tour on Saturday May 20, sponsored by the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Highlights of the tour included the James Whitcomb Riley boyhood home in Greenfield, the Starr Gennett Walk of Fame in Richmond, and the Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site in Fountain City, just north of Richmond.

In addition to Nelson, some of the tour commentary was provided by former Hoosier History Live show guests Jim Fadely, who was a guest on the "French Lick and West Baden Springs Hotels" show in 2010, and by Bob Jacobsen, who was a guest on “The Jazz Heritage of Richmond” 2013 show. Jill Chambers, who was a guest on the "History of Women's Voting Rights" show in 2015, participated in the tour.

The Society of Indiana Pioneers hosts motor coach tours in the spring and fall of each year. Booking information is through the tour’s organizer, Sue Thomson of Thomson Travel. More information at thomsontravel@gmail.com.



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We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • Bruce and Julie Buchanan
  • Mark Ruschman
  • Robin Winston
  • Phil and Pam Brooks
  • Rachel Berenson Perry
  • Kevin Murray
  • Susan Bielawski in memory of Jane Bielawski
  • Jill Lough Chambers
  • Sandra Hurt
  • Tom Swenson
  • Peggy Hollingsworth
  • Mike Freeland and Sharon Butsch Freeland 
  • Dr. William McNiece

Molly Head, executive producer (317) 506-7164 
Nelson Price, host and historian
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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Leticia Vasselli, Heather McIntyre, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution at the yellow button on our newsletter or website. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in the show, contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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