Should New Orleans native Gen. Joseph Lawton "Lightning Joe" Collins be honored with a statue at Lee Circle in New Orleans?
Collins was born in New Orleans, attended LSU and graduated from West Point. Following Pearl Harbor, he was promoted to major general and given command of the 25th Infantry.
He led the 25th to victory on Guadalcanal in the Pacific. Collins was then given command of VII Corps of the U.S. 1st Army in preparation for the Normandy invasion.
Among his many distinctions, Collins was one of only three American generals to command combat troops in both the Pacific and European theaters during the war.
The VII Corps participated in the D-Day landings, spearheaded the breakthrough east of St. Lo and then fought valiantly through France, Belgium and Germany.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Omar Bradley named Gen. Collins, "the ablest of all American corps commanders in World War II." In 1949, Collins — then a four-star general — succeeded Bradley as Army chief of staff. Collins holds the distinction of being the only Louisiana native to serve as the head of the U.S. Army.
"Lightning Joe" Collins played a vital role in winning the war both in the Pacific and Europe. By winning the war, the United States liberated hundreds of millions of people from tyranny and saved, for decades to come, hundreds of millions more from life under Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.
It should be remembered that at the end of World War II our country did not demand the usual spoils of war, but rather took the unprecedented step of helping our former enemies by financing the rebuilding of war torn Germany and by establishing democracy in Japan. In addition to honoring General Collins, the statue would stand as a tribute to the millions of Americans of all ethnic groups who fought in combat during World War II. Many of them died in combat, and many more were maimed physically or mentally for life.
Now that the pedestal at Lee Circle is vacant, perhaps Gov. John Bel Edwards, New Orleans political and civic leaders, and directors of the World War II Museum will unite in an effort to place a statue of Gen. Lawton "Lightning Joe" Collins at world famous Lee Circle. Louisiana's highest-ranking military leader deserves the honor.