By Jody Woltman
BEARDSTOWN - On Wednesday, September 11, a memorial dedication program and dedication ceremony brought memories back to family and the public while Beardstown elementary and high school students listened to eulogies and war stories in utter silence.
During the hour-long program, slides were shown on a large screen; photos those who lost their lives from BHS, several war photos newspaper clippings of obituaries and medals. The BHS gymnasium was darkened and a spotlight kept the speakers, presentations and the “POW/MIA Place Setting Table Ceremonial table lit. Hundreds listened as several eulogies were read by Jack Fearneyhough, Ill. State Representative Norine Hammond and Ill. Senator John Sullivan. The VFW Post 1239 made a special presentation, Brian DeLoche and the BHS Elite Choir sang a special song and District Chief of Staff for Congressman Aaron Schock Carol Merna made a presentation of the American Flag, flown over the U.S. Capitol, honoring those BHS students memorialized.
Pastor Scott Egbers gave the Invocation, Pastor Bob Schoolcraft blessed the American Flag, and Pastor Mike Courson blessed the memorial and gave the benediction.
As part of the program read:
“Following the April 2012 Project Tiger Pride event, we noticed the seemingly abandoned, old and original flag pole standing solemnly in the new west side of the Gard Elementary playground. It was battered, without rope and unusable. It was also placed there when the “new” high school was built in 1924.
The PTP team approached the School Board late last summer to ask if we could have the pole, restore it and use if for a new memorial. The Board unanimously endorsed our request. Thus, the wheels were set in motion...
Since the pole dated back to 1924, it was decided that we would create a memorial dedicated to BHS students who have died while in service since that year. That was the criteria: student of BHS at some point and died while still in service. We were not creating a veteran’s memorial, or a war memorial. It was something in between and one we have never seen at any other high school. And it needed to be special.
Ordered granite would take months to arrive from India, but allowed the creative genius of the team to design something very special. Greg Walters and Kevin Massey (IFP) collaborated with the architects Graham & Hyde in Springfield. Riverside Monuments designed the finished stone faces and a simple idea evolved into a complex plan.
Then the community -you- jumped in with generous donations. Some contributed monetarily; some with labor support. The Tiger Nation came together.
Our goal was to create a memorial fro the BHS students, the community and surviving family members that would do justice to the ultimate sacrifice of our fellow Tigers. “Good” was not enough. “great” wasn’t quite there. We wanted a memorial that was “Wow”!
Finally, our objective was to bring back to life those whose names are on the granite. To tell some of their stories: students like us. They walked and ran the halls like use; danced at proms cheered at games; played sports; sand in the choirs and participated in the band. they all had dreams of their futures. We heard them say “tell them of us”. And so we have.
We hope you believe we were successful. Those we memorialize deserve nothing less.
It’s a great day to be a Tiger!”
Honoring our BHS Fallen Heroes:
Albert Brockhouse, Willis Munger, Charles Burrus, Robert Kays, Edgar Green, Elmer Moore, Virgil Livingston, Jack Hagerty, Keith Jokisch, George Mitchell, Jack Schweer, Herschel Schaefer, William Townley, Robert Allen, Robert Treadway, Roy Chambers, Howard Lancaster, Robert Johnson, Robert Vincent, Robert Fox, George Broeker, Billy Cook, Lester Kimble and James Dorsey.