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For the Doughboys: How to preserve World War I memorials in Illinois

By The Editorial Board
via the Chicago Tribune web site

Victory Memorial Chicago 298The Victory Monument, located at East 35th Street and South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Wednesday, September 27, 2017, in the Bronzeville neighborhood. (Alyssa Pointer / Chicago Tribune)One November day in 1926, locals gathered in Highland Park to dedicate a statue in honor of the 363 residents who served in World War I. A band played patriotic songs and schoolchildren marched. Then life went on. Before long, there would be more wars to commemorate.

If you know where to go in the Chicago area, you’ll discover statues and other tributes in memory of those who fought and died in the Great War. They aren’t hidden away but are easy to overlook. Some in fine condition, some weather-worn, these memorials are part of the landscape, totems in recognition of sacrifices made 100 years ago. Among the many: the Winnetka Cenotaph Memorial, the Victory Monument in Bronzeville and the Doughboy Statue in Morton Grove.

Does anyone even give these historical markers a thought? Yes, thankfully.

With the war’s centennial at hand, there is a worthy project underway to repair and protect these statues and the legacy they represent. The program, called 100 Cities/100 Memorials, provides matching grants of up to $2,000 for the restoration and upkeep of World War I memorials. The project is a partnership of Chicago’s Pritzker Military Museum and Library and the United States World War One Centennial Commission, with support from the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The 100 Cities/100 Memorials program is seeking applications from community groups and others for grant money that could be put toward repairs, landscaping or other uses. The organizers awarded 50 grants in September and will award 50 more in April, which means there’s time for more Illinois groups to get involved and work to preserve more local monuments. Illinois Landmarks is doing a separate World War I monument survey and grant program, also funded by the Pritzker Military Foundation, and it’s also accepting applications.

Look around your own town or neighborhood. Do you know of a World War I memorial that could use some attention? There were six Illinois memorials named in the first 100 Cities batch: Winnetka, Bronzeville and Morton Grove, plus the Gold Star Memorial at Guthrie Park in Riverside, the Wheaton World War I Obelisk and a doughboy statue in downstate Glen Carbon.

“We’re hoping these towns will rededicate these memorials in some kind of public fashion and educate their citizens on the repercussions of World War I,” Kenneth Clarke, president and CEO of the Pritzker Military Museum, told us.

Read the entire story on the Chicago Tribune web site:

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