ILLINOIS VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
ILLINOIS VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL
Mike Ferguson, Louie Cooke, along with a Marine Honor Guard, laying a wreath at our nine year Vigil.
At the November 11, 1982 Vietnam Veterans Memorial dedication in Washington, D. C., two veterans from Illinois, Richard Stahl and Mike Ferguson, began to dream of building a monument to serve as an eternal reminder of the unique Brotherhood of the Illinois Vietnam Veteran - a tribute to their fallen and missing comrades-in-arms.
Then Governor James R. Thompson, Dick Stahl, and (me) Dennis L. Eveland on a POW/MIA Fundrasier.
Stahl's untimely death in May of 1984 spurred his friends, led by Ferguson, to an even greater dedication to making a dream come true.
On Independence Day, 1984 the first major Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial fundraiser was held at Spitler Woods State Park, near Mount Zion, Il., and on September 19, 1984, the first statewide meeting was held to begin to generate the needed public and legislative support for this monumetal task.
Fundraisers continued throughout the state and by spring of 1985, the committee began the search for an appropriate building site for the yet undesigned monument.
A statewide open competition was held that year to determine the design of the future Illinois Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Under the guidance of an architect, artist and monument specialist, a committee of veterans and their families selected the design submitted by then twenty year old Jerome A. Lager of Breese, Illinois.
Lager's design was a circular stone monument comprised of five black granite walls with interior courtyards, representing each of the five branches of service. At the center of the circle, a 15 foot high wall of gray granite will stand with an enternal flame burning at the top of the wall where the courtyards merge. The names of the 2956 Illinois servicemen who died or are still missing would be engraved on the monument, along with the message, "To those who died, honor and enternal rest; to those still in bondage, remembrance and hope; to those who returned, graditude and peace."
Support for the Memorial began to pour in from virtually every segment of the population, Govenor James R. Thompson declared November 11, 1985 through November 11, 1986 Vietnam Veterans Memorial Year. A joint House Resolution was passed in support of the Memorial. State veterans' organizations and local posts made tremendous financial contributions. Funds were raised from all sectors of Illinois-individuals, corporations, public and private donors.
In March 1986, Oak Ridge Cemetery Board and the City of Springfield donated 1.96 acres within the cemetery grounds near Lincoln's Tomb State Historic Site for the Memorial site. Ground breaking ceremonies were held on Sunday, November 9, 1986 at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Attendance was estimated at 600.
Construction was underway, but by January of 1987 only half of the needed $1.25 million had been raised, despite a $485,000 appropriation by the Illinois General Assembly. Raising funds for the Memorial began to be difficult and physically and emotionally draining for the Committee members. The original November, 1987 dedication of the structure would have to be delayed.
Yet November 10, 1987 was to be a happy day after all. "We have found a way to complete the Memorial" announced Govenor James R. Thonpson. "The considerable investment by the people of Illinois, both financial and emotional, will be preserved." The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was placed under the administration of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, as a permanent state memorial.
Tenth Anniversary Rededication-May 1,2,3, 1998
A Celebration to Remember
We want to invite everyone to our celebration, young and old alike, we want everyone to share in our weekend, thank you very much for looking us up, need any more information, drop me a note, thank you for your support.