Review: Indiana World War Memorial Wheelchair Accessibility

Indiana War Memorial Wheelchair AccessThe Indiana War Memorial and the 5-block War Memorial Plaza on which it sits was developed in 1924 after several years of planning.  It is located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  The memorial was constructed to honor the state’s fallen heroes of the First World War.  Built with Indiana limestone and in a neoclassical style, the structure stands 210 feet tall.  Its important purpose is inscribed on the building’s North facade:

To commemorate the valor and sacrifice of the land, sea and air forces of the United States and all who rendered faithful and loyal service at home and overseas in the World War; to inculcate a true understanding and appreciation of the privileges of American citizenship; to inspire patriotism and respect for the laws to the end that peace may prevail, justice be administered, public order maintained and liberty perpetuated.

The War Memorial's interior is wheelchair accessible via ramps located on its Northern side, from Michigan Street. The building's upper terrace and viewing platform is not, due to a large staircase. Most, but not all, of the building's interior can be reached using installed ramps and an elevator.

Inside the building is an expansive museum, tracing the state’s involvement in armed conflict from the Revolutionary War to the present day.  The museum pays the greatest attention to World War I and World War II.

John J. Pershing Auditorium at the Indiana War Memorial

The first floor houses an auditorium named in honor of General John J. Pershing, Commander of the United States Expeditionary Forces in World War I. General Pershing laid the cornerstone of the War Memorial on July 4, 1927. Today, the auditorium serves as the site of military commissioning ceremonies and on several occasions, the Indiana Governor’s State of the State address. Wheelchair spaces are available at the rear of the auditorium.

USS Indianapolis Radio Room Replica

There is also an exhibit that is a replica of the radio room on the historic USS Indianapolis. The room features fully operational radio equipment from World War II. A memorial dedicated to the ship and its crew is located 5 blocks away from the World War Memorial, along the city’s Central Canal.

Shrine Room inside the Indiana War Memorial

The hidden treasure on the building’s upper floor is the Shrine Room, which features elements from all of the Allied nations from Word War I.  At the center of the Shrine room is an American flag, hanging from the ceiling and measuring 17- by 30-feet. The flag hangs above the Altar of Consecration. Inscribed on this altar are the following:

In the stars of our flag shines the steadfastness of the stars in heaven. They lights the paths of men to courage, devotion and patriotism.

The true patriot best supports his government by creating friendliness through kindness and generosity wherever fate may carry him.

The Shrine Room can be accessed via wheelchair by elevator and a wooden ramp. The room's center is accessible, but steps lead up to the outer walls which feature portrait paintings of Allied military leaders. This room is unique as it is one of the few war memorials in the United States which pays great homage to the sacrifices and valor of the nation's allies. Visitors will leave with the understanding that America's victories in war were made possible because of a collective "team effort."

Artillery Cannon Display, Indiana War Memorial

The museum, located beneath the ground floor entrance, can be accessed by elevator. Each conflict has a dedicated exhibit. All are wheelchair accessible, with the exception of the Vietnam and Korean War sections.  The Indiana War Memorials Foundation plans to make this area ADA compliant once funding is set aside for the project.

Pictured above is a cannon used in World War II. In addition to heavy artillery, the exhibits display guns, rifles, grenades, rockets and other types of weaponry.

Replica of a Trench, Indiana War Memorial

This replica of a World War I trench makes clear the horrors that existed under this form of warfare.

Bugle of Peace, World War I

The bugle pictured above is another of the museum's treasures. It was used by a French sergeant in 918 to signal the cease fire of the First World War. The bugle was donated to the museum in 1949.

Nurse Corps Wheelchair Memorial

The museum does a very good job of recognizing all of those who sacrificed and made contributions to national war efforts. This display recognizes the women who served in the Army Nurse Corps during World War I.

Flag Collection, Indiana War Memorial

The museum houses more than 400 military and battle flags, 300 of which are from the American Civil War.

Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom, Indiana War Memorial

ADA compliant restrooms are available on the first floor. Grab bars are located next to and behind the toilet. There is space to roll a wheelchair next to the toilet for easy transfers.

For more information on visiting the Indiana World War Memorial, visit indianawarmemorials.org.  The museum is free and open to the public between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

Interested in planning a trip to Indianapolis? Additional information on the wheelchair accessibility of the city and its attractions can be found in our detailed Indianapolis Wheelchair Travel Guide.

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