Johnson County, established in 1823, has never had a war fought on its soil. Yet, the residents who have called this central Indiana county home throughout the generations, have been instrumental in keeping America safe in all major wars and conflicts. Although fought centuries ago, the American Revolution was impacted by patriots who later migrated to Johnson County. There are as many as 34 soldiers of the Revolution buried in Johnson County, though many graves have been lost to the ravages of time and weeds. History reflects area residents were also involved in the War of 1812 (1812-1815), the Black Hawk War (1832), the Mexican War (1846-1848), the Civil War (1861-1865), and all wars since. Loyalty and dedication to service was the common denominator in those who bravely answered the call to defend their home.
Pride in that service is evident in the many memorials and tributes in Johnson County. Each Memorial Day, crowds assemble to honor the sacrifices made by family, friends and neighbors who stood tall in the face of conflict. Parades and ceremonies celebrate our freedoms won on the backs of men and women who bravely served in the military. Numerous monuments and memorials have been erected that allow us to salute that bravery every day.
Monuments built as a way to remember past wars became increasingly popular in the United States between 1870 to 1920. They traditionally were designed to foster a sense of national unity, evoke specific emotions about past events, and to serve as a public gathering space to celebrate the past. In recent decades the meaning of these monuments have been challenged as Americans disagree on the experiences, meaning, and memories of the past. For war memorials, these conflicting readings can include honoring the dead, educating others about historical events, and expressing political opinions for and against war. In this tour we will explore some of Johnson County’s war memorials and discuss how they have been interpreted by the public.