By Dan Hauck
The Roman Kwasniewski photograph collection includes many photographs of the Tadeusz Kosciuszko monument at Kosciuszko Park on Milwaukee’s south side. Most of the photographs were taken in the 1920s when the monument was located in its original location on the north side of the park. Those photographs all include two cannons flanking the mounted general. I frequently pass the park these days, and there are no cannons next to the monument anymore. Naturally I thought, “What happened to the cannons?”
While conducting research on a set of parade photographs that were taken around 1937, I found the key to the cannon mystery. Using the Google News database I found a Milwaukee Journal article from April 26, 1976. The article reported on a tribute the Old South Side was having for two of its famous monuments, that of Kosciuszko and another for Casimir Pulaski, two Polish heroes of the American Revolutionary War. The article quoted Kosciusko Park supervisor James Filut, who noted that the heavy cast iron cannons had been disassembled and melted down to supply armaments for the war effort in 1943.
It seems fitting that even as late as World War II, the spirit of Kosciuszko was still fighting for the United States when the cannons were melted.