There is no question that regional road trips have become extremely popular this year – with many folks focusing on what is right in their own backyard for ‘staycations.’ For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. This week we’re focusing on the best Veterans Memorials!
Enjoy Mt. Vernon
Mt. Vernon and the surrounding area boast a plethora of Veteran’s Memorials dedicated to those who have served in all branches of service in wartimes and peace. Veteran’s Memorial Park on South 27th Street in Mt. Vernon has a stunning memorial lined with bricks of names, ranks and dates of service purchased by loved ones in honor or memory of their vets. Stone benches grace each corner to give visitors a place to sit and reflect. After visiting Veteran’s Memorial Park, be sure to visit the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport (MVN) where you will find a veteran’s display with memorabilia from various branches and time periods. While there, check out the Mt. Vernon Veteran’s Hall of Honor which boasts pictures and statistics of more than 700 veterans, primarily from Jefferson County. Also, at MVN, is the Jefferson County Heroes Memorial that lists 268 local family members, friends and neighbors who sacrificed their tomorrows for our today. Next, be sure to stop by the Bluford Veterans Memorial at the Village Hall and the Woodlawn Veterans Memorial at the entrance to the Chapman Sports Complex before coming back to Mt. Vernon to enjoy a nice meal and reflect on your day.
In dozens of communities big and small throughout ILLINOISouth, visitors can find truly amazing tributes to Veterans. The great thing is, each Veterans Memorial is different and unique in its own special way – making for a great collection of photos and memories from each community. Neoga Veterans Memorial Park in Cumberland County features several different sculptures from eagles to the Earth with all of the branches of the military included; as well as a cannon, and of course displays that feature all of the names of veterans who called Cumberland County and the surrounding area home. In Fairfield, their Veterans Memorial is located right downtown – and features plenty of seating for folks to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the outdoors. This memorial features benches that are dedicated to each branch of the military, and it’s placed directly in front of a beautiful Americana themed mural that was recently finished in the last year. Salem is home to another fantastic memorial, located right along Highway 50 on the east part of town. The Salem Veterans Memorial is huge in size, featuring a plethora of 11 displays and seven flags to honor those who have served. Arguably one of the most impressive memorials in ILLINOISouth is the O’Fallon Veterans Monument, located just north of the police station in O’Fallon. The display here is in the shape of a star, and includes an electronic touch screen for you to learn more about everything the Veterans Monument stands for.
Few places offer such a powerful story of sacrifice and history as the Mound City National Cemetery. Situated on fourteen acres at the junction of two historic roads (Hwys 37 & 51) in southernmost Illinois, the cemetery offers a direct link to the region’s Civil War heritage. Of the more than 8,000 buried here, greater than half – including more than 2700 unknowns – served during the Civil War. Stroll among the white marble headstones and markers in the Mound City National Cemetery and you will find a visual testament to a remarkable Civil War Heritage. Located on the National Register of Historic Places, the Cemetery is a burial place for both Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as soldiers from nearly every war. The walkway through the grounds is lined with markers inscribed with verses from the famous poem “Bivouac of the Dead.” Today the Mound City National Cemetery honors the sacrifice of 9,000 veterans. Every episode of American war and peace since the Mexican-American War (1846-1847) is represented among those at rest here. There is a Memorial Day program every year at the cemetery, on the Saturday before Memorial Day. There is also a “Wreaths Across America” program in December of each year. The Mound City National Cemetery is open to the public daily.
The Effingham County Veteran’s Memorial wall is dedicated to all the men and women of Effingham County, who served in any of the five branches of the armed forces. On Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1991, the first three stones of the memorial were dedicated in honor of all Effingham County veterans. Later, on May 19, 2012 – Armed Forces Day – the “Memorial Names Stone” was dedicated. This memorial features close to 3,700 names of men and women who have served our country and our community. The stones have been designed with the past, present and future in mind. Each year, more names are added to the wall, in remembrance, and there is room for more than 9,000 names total. The memorial is not only a tribute to our service members, but it is our history: a standing memorial to the living and the dead, our neighbors, family members and friends, and all those who have dedicated their lives to preserve, protect and secure peace for our nation.
“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude”. -Jeff Miller Williamson County has many memorials and statues commemorating the veterans of wars throughout history, beginning with the Civil War. A statue of General John A. Logan can be found on the college campus that also shares his namesake. The Carterville Veterans Memorial is dedicated to those who fought for freedom in World Wars I and II. In Marion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial honors the men and women that served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. This memorial features a wall of duplicated dog tags as well as an actual military tank! There are also other statues and memorials that can be found throughout the county paying tribute to heroes like our local veterans. On Veterans Day and every other day, these monuments stand tall to remind us of the great sacrifices that were made to pave the way for all of us.