World War I was a particularly trying time for the city of St. Paul. Because the United States fought against Germany, the city’s large German immigrant population came under heavy persecution due to questions about their loyalty to the country. Despite Woodrow Wilson’s call for the United States to enter the war to “make the world safe for democracy” during his plea to Congress to issue a declaration of war on Germany, the United States homefront became the very antithesis to this ideal with the formation of the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety (MCPS), a wartime agency dedicated to rooting out all elements of disloyalty to the war effort.
This became all the more apparent on Armistice Day in 1923, when the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a memorial to the men and women of Ramsey County who lost their lives in World War I. At the dedication ceremony, two Catholic clergymen and a Methodist minister were in attendance to administer the religious services, thereby excluding St. Paul’s large German Lutheran population.
Located adjacent to the parking lot to Shadow Falls Park on Mississippi River Boulevard at the center of the park’s entrance in St. Paul, one cannot help but not notice the memorial in its size or glory. Statue-esque in form, the memorial includes a plaque at its base detailing its history with the inscription, “In memory of the men and women of Ramsey County who sacrificed their lives in the World War. Greater love hath no man than this. Erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution, A.D. 1922.” As one’s eyes look upward, one notices the large cross at the top of the memorial with Fleur-de-Lis surrounding its base to represent the religious demographics of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Great War.
There also includes a blend of religion to go along with the patriotic aura which the memorial gives off due to the quote, "Greater love hath no man than this," from John 15:13 in the New Testament. This quote is not only common in military monuments and memorials, but stresses the strong bond held between soldiers fighting for something greater than themselves.
At first glance, this memorial may seem unsuspecting, given its location and simple design. While it may be located by the entrance to a hiking trail in Shadow Falls Park overlooking the Mississippi River, it nonetheless is modest and unassuming in nature. However, as one takes the time to observe it, one begins to experience a great deal of patriotism when one learns of the body responsible for its creation.