Greenwood, Wisconsin's Peace Memorial

Transcribed by Stan & Janet Schwarze.


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Wisconsin, typical of the entire United States in the splendid balance of its agriculture, its industry, and its scenic beauty, has entertained many a guest of distinction, but seldom has any guest left behind him so eloquent an expression of appreciation for the state and its people as the noted sculptor, Ernest Durig, left with the people of Greenwood this year.

In a tiny park fronting the main street of the little Clark County city today, stands a figure chiseled from white stone by a student of the outstanding sculptor, Rodin. It is the figure of a woman – a woman whose right hand supports a stricken soldier and whose left holds high a flag.

The statue represents many things to those who find meaning in the symbolic. It represents the motherhood of America, staunch and true to country through the greatest sacrifice motherhood knows. It depicts the gory misery of war, eloquently preaches the gospel of peace. It is reasonable to suppose that it will stand in Greenwood’s cit park for centuries, and that future generations will treasure it even more highly than the people of Greenwood do today, for it represents a work of art that money alone could not buy.

In the years to come it will represent Greenwood, and it will hold a place in the memories of those who leave Greenwood to take up their appointed tasks in the far corners of the earth. It will be an everlasting monument, not only to the cause of peace, which it eulogizes, but to the spirit of hospitality which is representative of Wisconsin and the Midwest, and especially of the little city which treated a great artist so kindly and so hospitably that he carved a treasure from enduring stone and left it there to express his gratitude for that friendly spirit. (Marshfield News Herald)


With an impressive and elaborate program the unveiling and dedication of the Peace Memorial, sculpted by Professor Ernest Durig, the last pupil of Rosin, was held on Sunday, October 3rd in an impressive ceremony. The memorial was dedicated to the Gold Star mothers of the nation and the citizens of Greenwood.

Our little city was packed with visitors. The main street was barred to automobiles but they filled the side streets. The crowd was estimated at 7,000 and they thronged around the green park beside the city hall where the dedication took place and where the beautiful white statue now stands.

Traffic officers from surrounding counties assisted the Clark County Highway police in directing traffic and special police were placed on duty by Greenwood’s chief of police. No accidents were reported.

The gala celebration began with a parade starting at the old city hall, coming down Main St., past the monument at 2:00 p.m. Leading the parade was the local American Legion unit. Followed by the Greenwood and Withee bands, a procession of cars bearing gold and silver star mothers, Al Darton of Loyal, the community’s lone G.A.R. member, Spanish-American war members and their wives, the American Legion Auxiliary, Stanley, Neillsville and Abbotsford service companies, and the Neillsville V.F.W. Post.

John Wuethrich, a member of the dedication committee, proclaiming the still unveiled statue as “the most beautiful ever erected in the United States,” introduced the chairman of the program, Dr. R.L. Barnes. A band selection followed, after which A.L. Devos, Greenwood’s City Attorney, made a few brief remarks.

Miss Rosemarie Durig, daughter of the sculptor, presented a harp solo, after which Elmer Johnson led the crowd in singing “America” and “America the Beautiful,” and Myron Duncan of Owen, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. Herbert Schwarze, sang “Ah Sweet Mystery of Life,” “Still Wie Die Nacht,” and “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

As the veil was lifted a pure white dove flew out and lit on the large American flag which was hanging behind the statue, and the sun which had not been shining all day, came through the clouds for a few moments, lighting up the beautiful statue. “Taps” by Kelly Etta of Loyal, followed.

Professor Durig, who gave us the enduring monument of peace, was called upon by Dr. Barnes, and declared he was deeply touched by Senator Duffy’s speech saying, “He has understood marvelously how an artist works.”

“I can only say,” Mme. Durig told the great audience, “that I have in my heart a great prayer – ‘Peace on earth.’, Woman has a high mission in working for peace. You are so fortunate here in America – spread your wings – for peace.”

Rep. Merlin Hull of Black River Falls, asserted that “Probably nothing has happened in Clark County since the World War to bring so many together in honor of such a cause. We shall carry away with us the lesson of this great day. It is fortunate, indeed, that Greenwood has been favored, with this great monument, but it must be remembered that it was the hospitality of Greenwood which caused a great artist to pay the city this tribute.”

Among the many others who were called upon and made brief remarks from the speaker’s platform were Col Fred Cruse of the U.S. Army, representing the adjutant general’s office; State Senator W.J. Rush, Neillsville, who also brought a message from Gov. Philip F. La Follette; Assemblyman Victor Nehs; County Board Chairman Elmer Anderson; Atty. Hugh Gwin, president of the Loyal Businessmen’s Association; Fred Stelloh, mayor of Neillsville; T.F. MacDonald, postmaster of Marshfield; W.F. Krause and Joseph Tobola of Thorp; Wm. Creed, Geo. Rude, County Red Cross chairman, and Mayor Ed Buker of Greenwood, who thanked Professor Durig “for this wonderful beautiful statue.”

Allan Wuethrich, accompanied by Rosemarie Durig on her harp, sang two solos, “In the Time of Roses: and “Nearer My God To Thee” and Lloyd Smith, a Legionnaire of Colby, sang “My Buddy.”


Approximately 250 persons attended the banquet in honor of the Durig family at the High School gymnasium in the evening, served by St. Ann’s Society of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. After a harp solo by Miss Rosemarie Durig, Senator Duffy, praising the celebration as one of the finest ever held in any small Wisconsin city, took his departure. He was accompanied by his son Ryan Jr.

Rep. Merlin Hull, declaring that nothing had been left undone by the community and the committee to make the day “one always to be remembered,” said that the new monument would afford inspiration to many future generations as well as to the present.

“I hope”, he added, “that when the artist can find no more worlds to conquer, he will return again to Greenwood for the years to come and will perpetuate, in stone or bronze or some other medium, some of those who made Clark County what it is.”

Sen. Walter Rush and Assemblyman V.W. Nehs, Elmer Anderson, A.L. Devos, Dr. Hugh Schofield, Dr. F.A. Boeckman, J.H. Fradette, were also called upon for remarks by John Wuethrich, acting as toastmaster.

Col. Fred T. Cruse, banquet speaker, announcing that the occasion was his “first appearance in the role of the unknown soldier” likened the monument to the famous ‘Christ of the Andes’ in South America and declared that the vast area between the two monuments represents an area of peace. He pointed to American accomplishments such as the construction of the Panama Canal, the establishment of airways, and the linking of Central American highways as eloquent demonstrations of the application of “practical peace,” and likened America’s efficient army as a police force powerful in the interest of peace.

Professor Durig briefly described his arrival in this city for a short vacation from his work at Washington, and told how Mme. Durig had prevailed upon him to create the memorial, which represents a Gold Star mother, holding with one arm a fallen soldier, and with the other hand holding high the American flag. It is carved of a manufactured sonte made of white cement and white sand and so far as known is the only monument in the United States made of this material. The sculptor had worked with this type of material in Italy. The material for the monument was supplied by the Greenwood Commercial Club.

Dr. R.L. Barnes, Commercial Club chairman, announced provision for another vacation trip to Greenwood for the Durigs, and Mrs. George Heilman, presented the sculptor with a history of the city on behalf of the public library board.

Several solos were sung by Myron Duncan Owen; Timothy Trinko, Chicago, appeared in a number of imitations and dinner music was furnished by an Eau Claire orchestra.

One of the most wonderful views ever seen was the statue viewed across the street in the evening. The street lights shining on the pure white statue, while on the north side was an entirely green linden tree, back of the statue a beautiful red and gold maple tree, and to the south a maple with almost all the leaves gone. As one party expressed, it described life, youth, middle age and old age. The white statue warning of all the horrors of war.


One of the most intense of all human desires is the yearning for peace. The great majority of the people of the world desire to live at peace with their neighbors. From the dawn of the Christian Era, the idea of “Peace upon Earth and good will unto men,” has been an impulse which has been planted deep in the minds and the hearts of civilized human beings. And yet, what is the condition of the world today?

In sunny Spain the sun is darkened by the smoke and dust and acrid fumes that arise from the field of battle. Beautiful churches and other public buildings, that have long been gems of architecture, now are shattered and crumbled and in ruin. Beautiful cities with their wide streets and the lovely parks and fine school buildings, have been pulverized by the tremendous force of exploding shells, or bombs dropped from the skies.

People of the same nationality are bitterly attempting to kill one another, fighting with a fury of maniacs and both sides are receiving aid from other nations. It is a dangerous situation for the peace of the world, because at any moment some incident may occur which will plunge Europe into the fiery pit of another war. There is no peace in Spain.

Over in the Orient the same sad picture presents itself, Japan and China locked in almost a death struggle. The armies of the Imperial Government of Japan, well trained and well organized, are fighting a war of brutal aggression, not only against the armies of China, but against the helpless women and children and civilian population of cities of no military importance. Naturally the sympathy of the entire civilized world goes out to China. There is no peace in the Orient.

And so, we have this anomalous situation; the people of the world want peace, and yet at this very moment, in widely separated parts of the world, two destructive wars are being carried on with unabated fury.

Today we have assemble here in this delightful community of Greenwood to dedicate a peace monument – the work of one of the most eminent sculptors in the world today, Professor Ernest Durig. Greenwood is indeed to be congratulated on the happy circumstances that brought Professor Durig and his talented family to this community for a visit. In future years thousands upon thousands of people will be attracted to this spot to gaze upon the noble work of art.

With the magic of his hand, Professor Durig has caused to spring from a block of cement and sand, a most heroic and symbolic figure. Certainly, as long as this monument stands, people who come here to gaze and admire will be inspired to thoughts and impulses of peace.

How beautifully has this famous sculptor depicted, first the sacrifice of human life that the God of War always demands; and, then the noble sacrifice of the Mother whose son has fallen in the service of his country.

Those of us who have participated in war well know that the men who receive the wounds, who are struck down by shrapnel, high explosives, machine gun fire, bombs, or gas, must bear great physical suffering and many will make the supreme sacrifice. But, the Mother who went down into the shadow of death to bring that boy into the world, and who has tenderly cared for him during his helpless years of infancy; who has thoughtfully guided him through his formative years, nursing and caressing him when he received the bumps or little wounds common to healthy, vigorous boys. Oh, the sacrifice that the Mother makes with her anguish of mind and her breaking heart even exceeds the physical torture of the soldier boy.

Here we see depicted a brave, courageous Mother with her head held high, bearing up under almost uncontrollable grief, still willing to go on for love of country. The flag which she so courageously keeps upright, in spite of the crushing burden of her fallen son, symbolizes the courage with which women have always been willing to sacrifice for their country.

I have recently returned from an official trip to France, Belgium, and England, where I represented this Government as a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission. The Vice-President selected 3 Senators from among those who had served in the army of this county. Three members of the House of Representatives were likewise chosen. General Pershing is the chairman of the Commission.

It is rather a consoling thought that after this great war leader had finished his task in the World War and the time came for him to retire, that he did not accept the many attractive commercial offers that were made to him, but has devoted all the rest of his life, up to this day, as the guiding head of the Commission authorized by Congress to erect suitable chapels and monuments, and to care for the cemeteries where some 32,000 American men and women lie buried today in foreign soil.

The President of the United States and the President of France participated in the first dedication. It fell to my lot to make the Dedicatory address of the chapel in Flanders Field Cemetery in Belgium. In these various dedications I want to assure you that there was no glorification of war in simple, dignified ceremonies. The paramount thought was that these men and women had died as American citizens in the service of their country.

We in the Congress of the United States have recognized the great yearning of American people for enduring peace. We have established a foreign policy that shows it is our earnest desire to live at peace with all nations and to be a good neighbor. We nurse no spirit of revenge. We do not dream of empire, and we do not covet territory that belongs to another. We have the will for peace. But yet, as a very practical matter we know that if the whole world catches fire that we must bend every effort to keep from being drawn in ourselves.

In the last session of Congress we passed a Neutrality Bill. It has received considerable criticism, yet, this bill went through the Senate by a three to one vote, which indicated substantial agreement as to its provisions. Under the provisions of this bill, after the proclamation by the President, American ships cannot be armed while engaged in trade with belligerents; American citizens are prohibited from traveling on the vessel of belligerents; such nations cannot float new security issues or loans in this count; American ships can not carry contraband of war, which contemplates what we usually know as munitions and materials of war. Likewise, funds, clothing, or medical supplies cannot be collected in this country, except under the approval by the President, and such collection would be entrusted, if permitted at all, to such an organization as the American Red Cross.

We have the cash-and-carry theory involved which mean that before any goods leave our country to go to a belligerent, it must have been paid for, so that the title has passed, and that they must come and get it.

Of course, the old conception of freedom of the seas no longer exists. The nation with a strong navy tell other nations what they can and cannot do upon the high seas. Witness the blockade of the Chinese Coast by the Japanese Navy.

Neutrality is a simple matter as a matter of theory, but as a matter of practice what appears to be a very neutral program is one set of circumstances may be most unneutral in another. Take the situation of furnishing oil and gasoline to Italy while she was conducting her campaign in Ethiopia.

There was much sentiment for us to cut off all export of petroleum products to Italy, but Italy answered, “Why this is the most unneutral thing that you can do. We have for years purchased a certain amount of these products from your. We have mechanized our armies; we had a right to rely upon at least a normal supply. If you cut out this supply, you will be unneutral and will be taking sides with Ethiopia.”

Despite these difficulties, I believe that we have laid the ground work in such a manner that we will be able to keep out of even a great World War, should one occur in the future. We shall pass some law that will take the profit motive out of war. We all know that during the last World War that some 22,000 individuals stepped from financial oblivion into the millionaire class and many thousands more into the luxury class.

There should be no incentive for making profit out of war in which this country is engaged. There must be some sort of universal draft so that, if war should come again, the burden would be equalized by bringing into the service of the Nation, capital, industry, and manpower with special privilege and profit from none. There should also be the means of providing instantaneous mobilization of industry on an orderly, efficient and economical basis for wartime service.

This must be planned for in advance, because when the drums beat and the soldiers begin to march, a hysteria spreads, and men and women will not respond in a normal, logical way. They will not have th sober, steady judgment that would protect them ordinarily in times of peace.

On behalf of the people of Wisconsin, I wish to thank Professor Durig for making this great contribution to our State. I want to congratulate the people of Greenwood and vicinity, your Commercial Club, and others who became interested in this project; in having the foresight and energy and the ability to render the necessary cooperation which has brought this great monument to your community. I do hereby dedicate this magnificent memorial to a cause of peace, and may every passerby that gazes upon it be inspired anew to work whole heartedly for the cause of peace and to avoid the inevitable, tragic cost that comes with war. And, may the sacrifice of this courageous Mother call to mind again and again that this Nation has grown great because of sacrifices made during all the years of its growth and progress.

And you, soldier Boy, you died for your country, but certainly you did not die to glorify war – you died with the thought that not only were you in the service of your country, but by your heroic devotion you might serve to common cause of of humanity. If you could speak to us from your grave today, it would be your agonized cry, “Cannot some means other than war be found to settle international disputes?” We must dedicate ourselves to that ideal.

We must keep sufficiently prepared so that no arrogant, brutal, militarist nation will trod upon us. At the same time we must keep our house in order and inspire the other nations with whom we come in contact that we desire only enduring peace. Oh Soldier Boy,

“Fear not that ye have died for naught,

We’ll teach the lesson you wrought

In Flanders Field.”



Greenwood, Clark Co., WI

L>R: Rosemarie Durig (daughter), Mrs. Durig & Professor Durig (Sculptor)

Facing Greenwood's Main Street is a statue created in 1937 by Ernst Durig, Swiss sculptor for whom many world figures posed, makes a silent plea for peace, depicting a war mother supporting her fallen son as she holds an American Flag. It was Christened prior to America's involvement in WWII. Approximately 7,500 individuals attended the most impressive dedication. The statue was a gift given by the internationally esteemed artist with the city of Greenwood paying only the expense of the materials used. His sister, Mrs. Louis Arbs, resided in the community.


SOURCES: Greenwood City Library Historical Clippings, Lorraine (Schwarze) Ernst Album, Greenwood Gleaner


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