A majestic bronze eagle has touched down on a permanent home at KU. The Victory Eagle is a Kansas treasure that honors veterans and casualties of World War I from Douglas County, some of whom were KU students. Located on campus since 1982 east of Dyche Hall, the Victory Eagle was recently moved to Memorial Drive. Thanks to the support of KU donors including a lead gift from Leslie and Dirk Raemdonck, the statue and recognition plaque are now located in a plaza overlooking Marvin Grove. It was rededicated during a celebration in May.
The impressive statue portrays a female eagle with a wingspan of more than seven feet protecting her nesting young. It is one of six known bronze eagles created in the 1920s as part of the Victory Highway, a coast-to-coast route from New York to San Francisco intended to memorialize those who died in World War I. The vision for the highway was to place a statue at each county line along U.S. Highway 40, but the initiative lost momentum during the Depression.
The Victory Eagle was originally placed at the Douglas-Leavenworth county line in 1929. It remained there until 1980, when vandals knocked it off its pedestal and stole the plaque listing the names of Douglas County’s fallen soldiers. The statue was then placed in the care of the University of Kansas.
The recent Memorial Drive reconstruction project provided an opportunity for the Victory Eagle to be relocated there and take its rightful place among the other KU war memorials.