They pay tribute to those who served more than a century ago, in what was called The Great War. And now the efforts to catalog 311 World War I memorials in Illinois is online.
Bonnie McDonald from Landmarks Illinois is among those leading the project.
“These monuments and memorials are living history,” she said. “When we began cataloging this, we had no idea how many monuments and memorials we were about to find. What we did know was that there wasn’t a database that did identify them for people.”
Online, you can find the memorials large and small.
“They range from a small bronze plaque that might have the names of those who served from that particular community (to) some of them are literally a boulder, they’re a rock and you might walk past it without seeing anything inscribed on it,” McDonald said.
Some are more noticeable —The Doughboy at King Drive and Giles Avenue in Chicago’s Bronzeville.
“(It) was the quintessential figure of the young man who served in World War I,” McDonald said. “They’re as diverse as the communities in which they are located.”
More information on The Landmarks Illinois Website
The memorial honors the Fighting 8th, regiment of the Illinois National Guard.
“This unit was so brave,” McDonald said. “They were the only unit that had African-American officers during WWI and they were critical to the final battles in France that lead the German army to enter into the armistice.”
The signing of that treaty lead to what we now call veterans day every November 11.
like the Fighting 8th’s statue, suburban Riverside’s monument to World War I also is benefitting from grants provided by Landmarks Illinois with funding from the Pritzker Military Foundation.
The grants help to restore and preserve. So future generations can remember those who served, those who died in the highest-cost of war.
“What we save speaks so much to what we value as a society,” McDonald said. “These monuments tell the history of people who volunteered their time, their lives, who lost their lives to protect what we hold dear in this country.”