Kentucky Medal of Honor Memorial
The Congressional Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest decoration for battlefield bravery. In November 2001 a memorial was unveiled that recognizes Kentucky’s 56 Medal of Honor recipients … and that’s the subject of this Et Cetera.
Located in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse in downtown Louisville, the Kentucky Medal of Honor Memorial is the first of its kind in the U.S. The bronze was created by local sculptor Doyle Glass.
The memorial features a six-foot bronze cast of Sergeant John C. Squires, a Louisville native who was the first Kentuckian to receive the Medal of Honor during World War II. The statue stands atop a four-foot limestone and granite base, which is inscribed with the names of the Medal of Honor recipients.
The monument depicts John Squires in full battle gear during his first offensive action in Italy. In that campaign, he single-handedly captured 21 German prisoners and collected more than a dozen enemy machine guns for his own men.
Squires was killed in action a month later, just four days after his 19th birthday. He is buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
The Kentucky Medal of Honor Memorial is the latest in an impressive list of local war memorials, which include the Jefferson County World War II Memorial and Jefferson Memorial Forest. The Kentucky Medal of Honor Memorial is a tribute to all Kentuckians who served their country “above and beyond the call of duty.”
More to note:
- The Memorial recognizes 56 Kentuckians and persons born outside of the U.S. who entered military service in Kentucky who have received the Medal of Honor for valor in combat.
- Sculptor Doyle Glass, a Midland, Texas native, was inspired by the motion picture “Saving Private Ryan” in his conceptualization and implementation of the KYMOH Memorial.
- According to the Courier-Journal, John C. Squires was a private first class in the 30th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division when his heroic action took place on April 23, 1944. He was promoted to sergeant on May 20 but was killed three days later.
- Sgt. John C. Squires’ Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously in October 1944 and presented to his father, Leroy Y. Squires. The ceremonies were held at Fort Knox. Leroy Y. Squires served 10 months in France in World War I. Read the citation for Sgt. John C. Squires.
- At the time, Sergeant Squires was the youngest soldier in the Army to receive the Medal of Honor. He was also one of the 243 recipients who died in the service of his country.
- John Squires’ older brothers, Leroy F. Squires and Steven Squires, were also in the service and both served in Italy during World War II.
- According to John C. Squires’ nephew, Lee Squires, Louisville’s Kennedy Bridge was to be named the Squires Memorial Bridge before President Kennedy was assassinated.
- During the Civil War three Medals of Honor were awarded for action “on the ground” in Kentucky.
- Kentucky’s Dr. Mary Edwards Walker is the ONLY WOMAN in history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
- Kentucky native Civil War drummer William Horsfall was only 14 when he earned the Medal of Honor at Corinth for saving the life of a wounded officer.
- Learn more about the Medal of Honor.
- The Jefferson County World War II Memorial, a 30-feet high marble shaft with wings topped by a flame finial. The Louisville War Mothers initiated this memorial just after the end of the war.
- Program 204
- In Louisville Life's war special: remembrances of three local WWII veterans, a rare look at life on the home front, a visit to the Patton Museum, and the story behind Kentucky's Medal of Honor Memorial. Plus, learn how a unique collection of local war letters are being preserved for generations. (#204)