Washington D.C.’s World War II monument is making its presence felt in Forest Park this month. On Saturday, Oct. 27, a traveling model of the walk-through fountain plaza, erected in 2004, will arrive at Woodlawn Cemetery for a program honoring WWII veterans and their families. Dignity Memorial Group will present the reception at 7750 W. Cermak Ave. at 2 p.m.
The room-sized model was used by then-Sen. Bob Dole to present the memorial design to Congress. The memorial plaza was designed by Providence, R.I. sculptor Friedrich S. Florian. A fountain and pond surrounded by 50 pillars representing each of the states. Each pillar is marked with a wreath. The northern and southern copings of the memorial list the countries where American troops fought in the European and South Pacific theaters. Bas-relief images of American troops from the era surround the pond, representing realistic portraits of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine servicemen. Notably, the images include African-American, Hispanic and Asian servicemen and women.
A Des Plaines group, Pillars of Honor, Inc., obtained the model temporarily and has displayed it around the region at various libraries and cemeteries.
“The average age of these veterans is 89, and we are losing these valuable souls at an alarming rate of 1,200 per day,” said Noreen Lake, of Pillars of Honor. Her organization brings the memorial to them since it’s difficult for most vets to travel.
Forest Park history singer Kathryn Atwood said she has enjoyed performing the music of WWII at the Pillars of Honor events for the past year.
“It’s an extremely lovely tribute to the vets and they always enjoy it,” she said.
The program lasts about one and a half hours and includes refreshments.
Included in the event is a booklet with lists of local veterans, alive and dead. Pillars of Honor will include the names of local WWII veterans registered by Oct. 20. Registration for the booklet can be obtained by contacting Pillars of Honor Inc., 770 Lee St., Suite 103, Des Plaines, IL 60016 or call 847-954-0520 for more information.
Another group, Honor Flight Chicago, will fly a group of local veterans to Washington D.C. for the day on Oct. 23 to visit the memorial in person. The volunteer group will arrange the tour and bring a crowd to Midway Airport to welcome the vets home after a long day of visiting D.C.
Forest Park resident Bob Maroney, 93, was selected to fly next week but had to put off for health reasons his journey with Honor Flight Chicago, said his niece Margie Maroney Wilkinson. Maroney served in the Merchant Marines and survived bomb and torpedo attacks. He currently runs an on-site video advertising business that donates one-third of profits to veterans’ causes and the VFW. If he gets the all-clear, Maroney will be joining the veterans at the D.C. memorial in April, said Wilkinson.