East Calhoun Parkway
Along East Calhoun Parkway of Lake Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), there includes a monument to the U.S.S. Minneapolis, a World War I-era cruiser, and two memorials to Minnesotans who served in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, respectively. All three commemorative structures are located adjacent to each other along the lake’s bike and running paths in Minneapolis. Each of these monuments and memorials has a story of its own.
Dedicated on Memorial Day 1922, the U.S. Navy memorial was erected by the Minnesota Division of the Women’s Naval Service, a wartime organization made up of many mothers of sailors serving overseas. The memorial consists of a copper tablet mounted onto a granite boulder. Displayed at the top is an anchor, symbolizing the branch of service for the men it commemorates. Below it reads the inscription, “In memory of the boys of our Navy who fought during the Great War, 1914-1918. Erected by the Woman’s Naval Service, Inc. Minnesota Division.”
The main feature of the World War I monuments and memorials located at East Calhoun Parkway, the monument to the U.S.S. Minneapolis consists of the ship’s mast. Dedicated in 1930 after the cruiser’s 1921 decommissioning, the monument originally included the mast and bell, however, these two artifacts were stolen and never recovered. Despite this, the mast remains intact, held up by cement at its base and with steel cables keeping it erect. The ship which it came off of was a cruiser named after the City of Minneapolis which served as an escort for supply ships during the Great War, but which never saw any combat action.
Located across from the U.S. Navy Memorial at East Calhoun Parkway is the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial. Dedicated in 1936, this memorial was erected by a local chapter of the American Legion. The memorial consists of a copper tablet mounted onto a tablet-shaped granite boulder. Unlike the U.S. Navy memorial, names are displayed, with the names of all Minnesotans who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War I killed “over there” included.
As was the norm with World War I monuments and memorials, the names are listed in alphabetical order, with no regard given to military rank. At the top of the memorial, the iconic U.S. Marine Corps emblem of the eagle, globe, and anchor is displayed, with the inscription below reading, “In memory of the Minnesota men who lost their lives while serving in the Marine Corps during the World War, 1917 to 1918.”
As one observes the monuments and memorials displayed along East Calhoun Parkway, one observes a correlation between these monuments and memorials’ commemorative structures and location, given the branches represented. Although there is no ocean or sea nearby to place these monuments and memorials next to, the largest lake in Minneapolis, Bde Maka Ska, certainly fills this void.
Although these three commemorative structures may be located adjacent to each other, they are still easy to miss. Not only is there no information provided about them, but they are located at an extremely busy intersection of Lake Bde Maka Ska, where people will often pass by without even noticing them. As such, this more than reflects the place which World War I holds in American memory a century later. This is an unfortunate reality, given the efforts which the bodies responsible for these monuments and memorials' creation went to to preserve the history and memory of the individuals who served in World War I.