‘Shining A Light’ event brightens Soldiers and Sailors Monument history

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It stands as a tall testament to Hoosier history and Hoosier values.

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument towers over Monument Circle as the most obvious symbol of the city of Indianapolis.

But, how much do you really know about the Monument? Did you know it’s only 15′ shorter than the Statue of Liberty? That, as an Historic Landmark, it enjoys the same protection as the White House or the Lincoln Memorial?

People who know it best say we’re about to get reacquainted with a landmark that somehow seems to get taken for granted.

“It’s an overwhelming monument is one way to put it,” said Jason Edwardson.

No one knows more about the Soldiers and Sailors Monument than Edwardson. He’s Tour Manager for the Indiana War Memorials.

Edwardson gives walking tours of one of the few monuments in the country dedicated, not to generals, but to the common soldier.

“Everybody in the state knows somebody who’s served, everybody’s got a grandfather or father or son who’s served in a conflict and that’s what makes this really special,” said Edwardson.

The Monument was originally envisioned as a memorial to Hoosiers who served in the Civil War. But, it took so long to get approved, other wars had already been fought. City fathers decided to make a monument recognizing Hoosiers who fought in every war.

“It goes to the thought process of the Hoosiers at that time. Common sense people. We’re serious about honoring those who put their lies in jeopardy so we can live free,” said Brigadier General (Ret.) J. Stewart Goodwin, the Executive Director of the Indiana War Memorials.

It took more than 10 years to build and by the time it was dedicated in 1902, it had cost $600,000 to build. That’s $500 million in today’s dollars.

“Hoosiers get it. They understand. It makes sense that they would spend all these resources to honor those who’ve served,” said Goodwin.

But as Indianapolis has grown, the Monument has remained the same. Some say it’s even been overlooked by many in the hustle and bustle of the modern Circle that bears its name.

“They pass by, they’re headed somewhere, they’re headed to a Colts game. They don’t take time to appreciate it.” said Edwardson.

But if the monument is taken for granted, it won’t be for very much longer. The “Shining A Light” event will provide a whole new perspective to the Monument that’s never been seen before.

“We want people to come downtown, we want them to feel safe, we want them to understand why they’re coming down here and to learn some history about it,” said Goodwin.

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