‘Honored and humbled’: Col. Hans Christian Heg statue rededicated in family-centric ceremony

MADISON, Wis. — A statue torn down by protesters in the summer of 2020 was rededicated over the weekend almost 100 years after the statue was first gifted to state leaders.

During Sunday’s rededication ceremony Col. Hans Christian Heg’s descendants and people he inspired gathered outside of the Wisconsin State Capitol to honor the state’s highest-ranking soldier to die in the Civil War. The statue of Col. Heg was restored and returned outside the Capitol in September 2021.

“He gave me a good name and I am always every day grateful for that good name he gave to me and my family.” Major James Patrick Heg said, reflecting on his family’s continued legacy.

While attending the ceremony, Major Heg recalled old memories of when he first heard about his historic ancestor. Now a Marine, Major Heg said his fifth great-grandfather’s dedication to the U.S. military inspired him to do his part for the greater good.

“[I’m] honored and humbled that an ancestor of mine became a symbol for so many others of what it means to find your way in America,” Major Heg said.

RELATED: ‘Forward,’ Hans Christian Heg statues restored outside of State Capitol

The ceremony’s organizer, Fred Campbell, took time at the event to reflect on Col. Heg’s history as an abolitionist who fought for his country.

“He stood up against a lot of powerful forces against that and people don’t know that,” Campbell said. “That person is the last person that should’ve been torn down.”

Other attendees expressed hope that Col. Heg’s story would go on to send a positive message to others in the future.

FROM 2020: Protesters explain why they tore down statues at State Capitol

Major Heg, who drove 13 hours from Virginia to be at the Capitol for the event, said the day was ultimately about encouraging others to follow in the colonel’s footsteps, urging others to try to help others however they can.

“I don’t think I could hold a candle to what he did so many years ago today, but I’m honored to have done my part to keep that tradition alive in the Heg family,” Major Heg said.

The rededication ceremony was organized by the Madison Veterans Council. The statue itself was gifted from Norwegian Americans to Wisconsin state officials back in 1926.