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Remembering Colonel Heg

Empower Wisconsin | Aug. 10, 2020

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — When Black Lives Matter rioters in June ripped down the statue of Col. Hans Christian Heg, they destroyed one of Wisconsin’s most profound symbols of liberty.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) was in Norway, Wis., to honor the life of Heg and celebrate his ultimate sacrifice in helping to deliver to the Land of Liberty “a new birth of freedom.” The small Racine County Town boasts a statue of the Civil War hero. A replica memorial stands in Heg’s birthplace in Lier, Norway.

The Heg statue that had guarded the Capitol grounds for nearly a century was pulled down and decapitated by an angry mob ostensibly demonstrating against racism and social injustice.

What the rioters failed to comprehend was that Heg enlisted in the Union Army and raised a volunteer regiment to fight for his adopted country and against the forces of slavery. He died from the wounds that he received in the bloody Civil War Battle of Chickamauga.

During his lifetime, Heg led his community and state as an anti-slavery activist. A staunch abolitionist, he also led an anti-slave catching militia in effort to protect escaped slaves.

“While Col. Heg may have been Norwegian by birth, we are proud to claim him as one of our own,” Steil told community members last week. “Ignorance is dangerous and we will not allow future generations of Wisconsinites to forget the sacrifice and service of Col. Heg.”

As Empower Wisconsin first reported  last month, The 16-member State Capitol and Executive Residence Board approved a motion that calls for raising the funds to bring the Heg statue and the iconic Capitol Grounds Forward statue back to their original glory.

Steil recently introduced a bill to name the Muskego Post Office in honor of Heg. Wisconsin U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Glenn Grothman, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Tiffany, all Republicans, are cosponsors of the bill.

Heg spent his childhood in Muskego.

“Colonel Heg had deep roots in Southeast Wisconsin. The pride and respect for Col. Heg is evident throughout the Town of Norway and greater area,” the congressman said.

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