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General Douglas MacArthur Statue

    

Location:

Veteran's Park, Milwaukee - Southern section, close to the War Memorial Center.  See location in Google Maps.
Features & Materials:  9' 6" bronze statue on concrete base, painted white
Aldermanic District:  4th

 

The Story

After World War II, Milwaukee was keen to honor its own war heroes, and General Douglas MacArthur was an obvious choice.  General MacArthur himself considered Milwaukee his ancestral home; his grandfather was a prominent Milwaukee attorney and later a federal court judge.2  And his family did live for a time in Milwaukee, where MacArthur attended the old West Division High School.  Theobald Otjen, a Wisconsin congressman and former member of the Milwaukee Common Council, nominated MacArthur to West Point.  MacArthur stuck with the military after graduating from West Point, and later gained notoriety by successfully recapturing the Philippines from the Japanese during WWII.  In September of 1945, he was the one to officially accept Japan's surrender on behalf of the United States.  From there, he oversaw the U.S. occupation and rebuilding of Japan from 1945 to 1951.

Milwaukee first decided to honor General MacArthur on September 17th, 1945, when then 4th Ward Alderman John Koerner introduced a resolution to rename the park plaza east of the Milwaukee County Courthouse "MacArthur Square" on September 17th, 1945.  The square was dedicated on April 28, 1951 during the general's homecoming celebration, when the parade stopped in front of the courthouse for the ceremony.

Plans for the statue came much later, when the Milwaukee Common Council approved a location for the statue at MacArthur Square on March 9th, 1974.  Attempts were made at a broader fundraising effort to cover the estimated $50,000 in costs, which included placement of historical markers around town related to MacArthur's time in Milwaukee.  But ultimately, most of the funding came from Marie Z. Uihlein and family.  The Uihleins were friends of the MacArthurs, and wanted to help fund the memorial, asking that the statue be dedicated in the memory of Mary's husband, Erwin C. Uihlein.  Things moved forward with the selection of sculptor Robert Dean, who happened to be a West Point graduate as well. 

Dedication of the statue took place on June 8th, 1979 in MacArthur Square, with MacArthur's widow Jean MacArthur in attendance.  The Pulaski High School band provided ceremonial music, and West Point cadets from Wisconsin were there to be a part of the ceremony.

Decades later, in October of 2013, the statue received attention as debate began about the possibility of moving it.  Veterans and civic leaders felt that it didn't get much attention in MacArthur Square, which over the years had become an underutilized park space.  "It's such a waste to have him over there," said Ted Hutton, a retired Allen-Bradley executive.  "Most people don't even know the statue exists."  Marine Corps veteran Mike Balistriere said,"Right now, that statue isn't very visible to folks . . . It doesn't get a lot of attention.  But it will at the War Memorial."

Support was garnered to move the statue to a new spot in Veteran's Park on the lakefront, and after much planning the move occurred on May 29, 2014.  From there it was prepared for the 35th anniversary celebration of MacArthur Memorial Week, which took place on June 7th, 2014.  The unveiling ceremony began with remarks by retired U.S. Army Gen. Robert Cone, a resident of Shawano, Wisconsin.  Wreaths were placed around the statue by representatives from the U.S., Australia, Japan, Philippines and South Korea in gratitude and remembrance for Gen. MacArthur's military service to those countries.1

Reference links can be found below in More Info.

 


Gallery

The General MacArthur statue in its original location in MacArthur Square, in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse
General Douglas MacArthur statue in its original location in MacArthur Square, in front of the Milwaukee County Courthouse.  Photo Credit:  Lee Matz, Milwaukee Business Journal Army Lt. Col. John P. Otjen with Jean MacArthur at the unveiling of the General MacArthur statue.  Photo Credit:  Milwaukee Sentinel photo, June 9, 1979 The statue's new site overlooking Lake Michigan.

 


More Info

  1. General Douglas MacArthur Memorial - HPC Inventory Sheet

  2. MacArthur Statue Relocation - Milwaukee Business Journal, May 28th, 2014

  3. Wikipedia

 

City Hall
200 E. Wells St., Room B-4

Milwaukee, WI 53202

(414) 286-5712

hpc@milwaukee.gov


 


War Memorial Web Site Credits

Nader Sayadi compiled a majority of the photos and information seen here.  Laura Vanderbilt contributed writing and supporting information for "The Story" sections.