Polar Bear Memorial.

Polar Bear Memorial to Russian-Fightin' Doughboys

Field review by the editors.

Troy, Michigan

The "Polar Bears" were a Michigan Army regiment sent to Russia -- because commanders assumed they were comfortable in cold weather --in the waning months of World War I. "At the urging of Britain and France," notes a plaque at this monument, which was erected at the graves of dozens of Polar Bears who never made it back. The much-later Cold War got all of the press, but the Polar Bears were the only American soldiers who actually fought Russians in real combat. Theirs was a small war, meant to punish the Commies for signing a peace deal with the Kaiser, and to prevent Allied stockpiles from falling into enemy hands. It was not successful, nor popular with the Polar Bears.

The large, scowling bear, made of Georgia marble, guards a helmet and a cross at its feet, defending the Polar Bears' graves. "Our country, right or wrong," is inscribed into its base. The surviving Polar Bears held annual reunions at the monument until 1983, but they're all dead now.

Polar Bear Memorial to Russian-Fightin' Doughboys

White Chapel Memorial Cemetery

621 W. Long Lake Rd, Troy, MI
I-75 exit 72. Turn left (south) onto Crooks Rd, then turn left (east) onto Long Lake Rd/18 Mile Rd, then turn right into White Chapel Memorial Cemetery. Drive straight toward the back, go around the circular fountain, then turn right. The Polar Bear Memorial will be straight ahead.
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