Saturday, January 20, 2018

"The Spirit of the Fighting Yank," WWII Memorial on Devon Avenue in Chicago, Illinois.

"The Spirit of the Fighting Yank" by E.M. Viquesney is a life-sized figure cast in bronze-plated zinc, on a high pedestal protected by an iron picket fence. It is located at 2720 West Devon at the corner of Fairfield Avenue in Chicago's West Ridge community in West Rogers Park neighborhood.
I lived two blocks away from "The Spirit of the Fighting Yank" monument for thirty-plus years. I walked past it, peddled my Schwinn Orange Krate Stingray bicycle by it, and watched it pass by from the window on the CTA 155 bus a million times. The statue captures movement, frozen in bronzed zinc.
It is outside of the Republic Bank, originally named Cook County Federal Savings and Loan, then the First Cook Community Bank, which is in a brick colonial-style building inspired by Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the original home of the Liberty Bell.
The statue was modeled by E.M. Viquesney (1876-1946). An early version of the "Fighting Yank" was carved in limestone and dedicated in 1944 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, Indiana.
After Viquesney's death, Ralph Gropp reproduced the statue in bronze-plated zinc at his Chicago Studio in 1951.
The statue has been recoated and refurbished, including
repairs to the Tommy-gun, by Jane Foley.
The figure, a fully geared army soldier, is striding forward, about to lob a live grenade with his taut right arm, staring out intently at his target.
The plaque on the black granite base reads "Lest We Forget They Died...That We Can Live in Independence. Independence Hall, Dedicated May 30, 1958. Presented and Created By Harry A. Cooper.

The dedication date of May 30, 1958, is the same date that unidentified veterans from WWII and the Korean War were interred at the 'Tomb of the Unknowns' in Arlington National Cemetery.

Unlike most other memorials to war veterans, this figure is frozen in a perpetual pose of impending defense, suggests that even in death, soldiers endeavor to protect the democratic way of life.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. I've admired that Statue since I was a little boy growing up in West Rogers !! I banked and received my first Mortgage at Cook County Federal !! Pray that it will always be there !!

  2. I remember this statue as a kid growing up in Chicago in the 80s, the statue had his gun broken because the barrel of the tommy gun was made from wood and was broken off by someone, it also had it's eyes painted by someone too with white and black paint to make the eyes look real. I walked past it every single day because I live just down the street literally 2 minutes away.

  3. I remember that dedication day vividly, seeing it again is like I have gone back in time. Thank you for the post.


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