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FAIRBURY - When two Civil War cannons returned to Fairbury's Central Park in the fall after four years of storage, members of local veterans groups decided the time was right to create a veterans memorial.

"We felt like we needed to step forward and remember those who paid for us to have the freedoms we have," said Wallace Alpers, commander of the Fairbury Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Alpers and John Luttrell, adjutant for the John Joda American Legion Post 54, presented the memorial plans to the city council recently. The project, which features a refurbished bronze plaque honoring Fairbury's World War I veterans and two granite monuments commemorating Fairbury veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, could be completed for Memorial Day.

"We plan to have a horseshoe-shaped walkway connecting the plaque and monuments with the two cannons," said Luttrell. "We also hope to have a landscaped area with a lighted flagpole and vessels to put flowers in."

The city completed mounts for the cannons in the fall and will be installing the plaque base, but street Superintendent Martin Steidinger said there are no approved plans for the memorial site.

"We have some ideas, but we will be taking it one step at a time until the monuments are finished," said Steidinger. "If the plans change, we might limit ourselves by putting in the sidewalk too early."

The plaque and cannons were on display at the center of the park for decades but were removed four years ago to make room for a gazebo. They were to be stored briefly until a new location could be developed, but were forgotten until members of the Arrowhead Lodge approached the council last fall to have new cannon mounts built.

Luttrell and Alpers, both veterans of the Korean War, don't know how much the proposal will cost, but said the Legion and VFW have contributed $2,800 to clean the plaque and create the monuments.

"The plaque has been exposed to the weather all those years," said Alpers. "You could hardly make out the names before the cleaning, but it looks immaculate now."

Alpers said one monument would list the 22 Fairbury veterans killed in World War II and the other would have the names of the two veterans killed in Korea and one name for a Vietnam War casualty.

"There will also be room for other veterans for other wars, but we hope there is no need to add any," said Alpers.

Alpers said the organizations don't have any fund-raising plans but hope to get money from other sources.

"I can't think of a better way to spend money than on those who died for us," said Alpers.

The Grand Army of the Republic Post 75 placed the cannons in the Central Park in 1902 to honor Union soldiers. The plaque was dedicated in the mid-1920s.


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