The courthouse square in Franklin, Indiana has been central to both commemoration and protest. For some residents, these monuments honor the many brave men and women whose lives have been cut short by the ravages of war. They testify to their bravery. On courthouse grounds, Memorial Day is not just another day of a holiday weekend. It is a time to remember and give homage. Every year, flags and crosses appear on the courthouse lawn, one for every Hoosier life given in military service. Music is played, speeches are made, prayers are lifted, and salutes are raised. It is a time to reflect and pay tribute to the selfless acts made on behalf of the US military. Names of these Johnson County heroes are engraved in stone and steel for all generations to treasure and admire.
Local servicemen and women served bravely and selflessly in these wars, but not all residents of Franklin rose in support of these military actions.
The square has also been the site of assembly and protest. Numerous marches led by students from Franklin College rounded the courthouse opposing the war in Vietnam, following a series of demonstrations held at college campuses across the country. In 1972 fifty students led a march from campus to the courthouse. The Franklin students were met by a group of counter-protesters who gathered at the square in support of American troops. This event was preceded in 1970 by a demonstration at the city bus station, where over one hundred students blocked a bus that was set to transport 16 drafted men to Indianapolis for Army physicals. Eight protesters were arrested.
In 2003 Franklin College hosted a prayer event and a peace rally protesting the US involvement in Iraq. The events were followed by a rally in support of the war at the courthouse square by a group of local residents.
Whatever the sentiment, these courthouse monuments are reminders of the intense emotional impact war has on the lives of Franklin residents.
This tour represents the county’s contribution to military service and will highlight notable service members and their families.
The courthouse square is home to several monuments, covering wars and conflicts in which Indiana soldiers laid down their lives, including the following:
• Revolutionary War Memorial – Erected in 2009 by the Alexander Hamilton Chapter (Franklin) of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in honor of all Revolutionary War Soldiers and Patriots buried in Johnson County.
• Civil War Memorial – Erected in 1905 by John T. Vawter to commemorate the valor of soldiers of Johnson County in defense of the Union. This is the largest monument and fountain on the square, towering over the intersection of Jefferson Street and North Main Street.
• Spanish American War Honor Roll – Erected in 1932 by Franklin Camp No. 64, United Spanish War Veterans. Lists names of the 60 patriots from the Volunteers of 1898.
• War Memorial Honor Rolls – Erected in 1989 by area chapters of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. Lists the names and honors the service of Johnson County veterans from World War One, World War Two, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, service in Iraq and Afghanistan.