Near the middle of Columbus’ Pawnee Park is a tribute to an unsung World War 2 hero. Although he may not have stepped foot on the battle field, Andrew Jackson Higgins impacted the war in another important way. Higgins designed the boats that were used in the Normandy D-Day invasion. I do talk about Andrew Jackson Higgins in my Detour Nebraska book (p. 60 and 61 to be precise). But I was unable to show any pictures or tell more about the additional monuments.
The historical marker does tell more about Higgins’ life in Columbus. You can read the text online here. Higgins may have started as a small town boy, but he made his impact on the world.
The most noteworthy part of the display might be a replica of one of Higgins boats. What makes it fun is that visitors can climb into the boat. Right next to the boat are statues of World War 2 soldiers. The bronze statues were sculpted by Fred Hoppe. While he is a world renowned sculptor in his own right, Hoppe is actually from Columbus.
All throughout the memorial visitors can see flags representing different parts of military service. An additional area specifically honors soldiers from various conflicts. Another soldier sculpture shows the men working together. As visitors will notice right away, this part of the park is purposefully planned.
Later on, an additional monument was constructed at this location in honor of those who lost their lives on 9-11. Hoppe also created this eagle sculpture which symbolizes freedom to all who visit. To create this visual artwork, Hoppe used a piece of steel salvaged from the destroyed World Trade Center.
To visit the Higgins Memorial…
Pawnee Park is located right off of Highway 30 in Columbus. This public park is open from 5 am to midnight. This is a great location to visit in Columbus. Local residents made a fitting memorial to pay tribute to those who served our country.