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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Construction of Battle Bows on June 12, 1992. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
BATTLE BOWS. "Battle Bows" was the winning design in the national competition for the Tri-State Veterans Memorial. The idea of creating a monument honoring all from this area who had served their country in the military first occurred after the 1983 Memorial Day parade in Dubuque. At that time, there was no memorial to veterans of the region. (1) The Tri-State Veterans Memorial Association was formed with E.A. Sanderson as president. Harold P. MELOY was elected president after the articles of incorporation for the organization were completed in 1983. (2)

The first choice was CHAPLAIN SCHMITT ISLAND where a memorial to the hero of WORLD WAR II was already constructed. The idea was defeated by a developer's plan, never pursued, calling for the construction of a hotel. (3) A location for a monument in MARSHALL PARK became available with the City of Dubuque providing a two-acre plot rented for one dollar annually. (4) A fund-raising campaign was begun with a target of $300,000 to cover the cost of the design and construction. The design was the creation of sculptors Saunders Schultz and William Severson of St. Louis, Missouri, and architect Thomas Nisbet of Madison, Wisconsin. The seven-member panel of professional judges that selected the design was chaired by Wayne NORMAN. Nisbet received ten thousand dollars for his entry. The term "bow" is short for rainbow from the biblical story in Genesis where after the flood, God set his "bow" in the sky. Construction on the monument began in 1990. (5)

Mayor's proclamation. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

Constructed about twenty-four feet high, Battle Bows consists of four stainless steel semi-arches. Three of the arches, designed in plain polished steel, circle a fourth laminated with four-foot long ceramic tiles fired in Seattle, Washington, representing colorful battle and campaign ribbons from wars beginning with the REVOLUTIONARY WAR to the VIETNAM WAR. (6) The core steelwork was produced by BRADLEY IRON WORKS, INC.

In 1995 the memorial was the site of a ceremony honoring members of the military and public service agencies who had passed away in the last twenty-five years. Following a reading of the names of public safety workers from Dubuque County who had died, the event concluded with a salute by honor guard, the playing of "Taps," and the performance of "Amazing Grace." (7)

In 1998 the monument was donated to the city with veterans and auxiliary members serving on an advisory board to the Dubuque Parks and Recreation Commission. (8)

In 2008 the memorial's condition was the subject of concern. Debris filled the reflecting pool, water re-circulation pumps did not work properly and a sign describing the memorial was in poor condition. Nick Lucy who led a revitalization effort said as much as could be done with volunteers had been attempted. The city had committed $20,000 from a capital improvements program to aid the effort. The sign was replaced with a large limestone marker provided by Jeffery Mozena and Fred Becker. Consideration was given to replacing the reflecting pool with flower beds. (9)



1. Gilson, Donna. "Memorial 'battle' Nears End," Telegraph Herald, May 12, 1990, p. 1

2. Wilkinson, Jennifer. "Battle Bows Given to the City," Telegraph Herald, June 30, 1998, p. 1. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19980630&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. Gilson

4. Gilson, p. 3A

5. Wilkinson

6. Gorton, Ken. "'Battle Bows' Makes Debut," Telegraph Herald, June 30, 1990, p. 3

7. Mozinski, Eileen. "Public Safety Workers Honored," Telegraph Herald, September 16, 2005, p. 1

8. Wilkinson

9. Reber, Craig. "All Vets Memorial in 'Sad' Shape," Telegraph Herald, November 27, 2008, p. 3