Patriots Day, September 11, 2018, was chosen to officially dedicate the new Veterans Memorial monument at Collinsville High School.
CHS students and faculty, local dignitaries, veterans and members of the community gathered to celebrate the completion of a project that grew out of the desire to remind students of the sacrifices made for freedom.
When Collinsville High School earned the Illinois Democracy School designation in 2016, discussions centered around ways to engage the school community in something to serve as a reminder of the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.
CHS teacher and social studies department chair, Barbara Lindauer, herself a veteran, came up with the idea to build a veterans monument as an extension of the school’s already close relationship with local veterans groups. Illinois Democracy School grant money – along with a stipend Lindauer received as Teacher of the Year from the Illinois VFW – became the seed money for the project.
“The Democracy School Network at CHS initiated the idea of a Veterans Memorial to recognize all Collinsville veterans – past, present and future – for their dedication to the United States of America,” said Lindauer, “In this process, Collinsville students, veterans and community members helped in designing and funding this important project.”
Design ideas were solicited from CHS students. Community members and representatives of local veterans groups met to choose a design and words to appear on the memorial. Careful consideration was given to ensure ALL branches of the military were represented: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
In the end, the group decided to depict an American eagle with the words: “Home of the Free Because of the Brave.” Black granite was chosen for the monument which was produced by Lager Monument in Breese, Illinois. In April 2018, the monument was installed in front of the Collinsville High School flagpole.
According to Lindauer, today “the Memorial is a place of sacred honor for reflection, remembrance and ceremony.”
The Dedication Ceremony
Since completion of the monument occurred at the end of the school year, the CHS Democracy School group decided the official dedication would be held as part of their annual 9-11 observance. The schedule also allowed the CHS band and choir to participate.
In addition to Lindauer, speakers at the dedication included Collinsville Mayor John Miller, Army Judge Lt. Col. Sarah Smith, CHS and West Point graduate US Congressman John Shimkus, CHS student Pvt. Cade Juenger and Principal David Snider.
Two families who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country helped lay a special wreath at the monument: the family of Pvt. Henry B. Diaz (KIA 1943) and the family of Captain John E. Tipton (Killed 2004). Following a rendition of “Song for Unsung Heroes” by Kahokapella, “Veterans Salute” performed by the CHS Band and closing remarks, Collinsville Middle School 7th grader Jack O’Hara played Taps.
Opening Remarks from Barbara Lindauer:
I want to begin by thanking Unit 10 Superintendent Dr. Bob Green and CHS Principal David Snider for sharing this vision with me and supporting and encouraging me throughout this process. I also want to express my sincerest appreciation for the many students, co-workers, community members and veterans who came together to make this monument a reality.
I have spent the past few weeks thinking about how I could best convey what the erection of this monument means to me. I do some of my best mental speech writing while driving, so when I saw the John McCain American Hero Sign in front of the Steam Fitters Union Hall on Hwy 159, I thought…… “What would Sen. John McCain, a man who always put Nation before self, a man who epitomized what a Veteran is-honorable, loyal and courageous. What would John McCain say?”
I combed through dozens of quotes for inspiration and although I found many more inspiring, this one stuck with me for its relevance to today: “Glory belongs to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely and who rely on you.”
This quote spoke to me because I moved to this community because this is a community filled with people on whom you can rely. Fairmont City, Caseyville, Maryville and Collinsville, the cities that make up the Unit 10 Community have a selfless concern for the well being of others. You are the people I count on. I know I can rely on you and I hope you know you can rely on me.
Together Unit 10 Students, Staff, Community Members and Veterans have created a monument that is a testament to the reliability of our citizens. It is a living history that in the decades to come will serve as a reminder to all who pass that we are a community that recognizes the courage and dedication it takes to defend our nation. We thank you Veterans for accepting the call to duty.
Remarks from CHS Senior Pvt. Cade Juenger:
Hi, I am Pvt. Cade Juenger. Over this previous summer I completed basic combat training and am now a collinsville high school senior.
I enlisted into the Illinois Army National Guard on January 19th 2018, inspired to serve my country and eager to start training to become a soldier. There were multiple factors besides just the financial and educational benefits that inspired me to enlist.
The men and women currently and previously serving were my main inspiration. Without those soldiers, our nation wouldn’t be what it is today. To me it has always felt like a personal duty to serve this great country and carry on the torch from many before me who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this land.
During the Ten long weeks of my time at Ft. Leonard Wood I learned what it means to be a soldier. Being a soldier isn’t just about running around and searching for the enemy. Being a United States Soldier is doing what’s right, putting others before yourself, working with people from many different backgrounds, and most of all making sacrifices for the betterment of the Nation and other people.
I could go on forever about what makes a soldier a soldier but what sums it all up are the Army Values. Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage. These seven core values are the fundamentals that each soldier should display and live by. In my opinion, the most honorable value that has been displayed by veterans has been selfless-service. Selfless service is putting everything on the line and expecting nothing in return.
Also from my experience with not only being trained but being mentored by my Drill Sergeants and other Non-Commissioned Officers I have received an even greater and stronger respect for our veterans.
To all of our veterans of each branch of the US military, previously and currently serving, I would like to say thank you for your commitment and sacrifice to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America and the great freedoms granted to us.
Thank you to Donors:
Barbara Lindauer • Multicultural Kahoks • Robert R. McCormick Foundation • Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Schusky • Collinsville Township Democratic Precinct Committeeman • Delta Epsilon • PEO Chapter ML • IBEW Local 309 • VFW Ladies Auxiliary • Mr. and Mrs. Francis Souffle • Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Soehlke • Mr. and Mrs. Richard Rehg • Mr. and Mrs. John Miller • Mr. and Mrs. Dale Dust • Mr. and Mrs. Gary Peccola • Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Weil • Ms. Patty Smith • Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Hayes • Kelly Fleming-in honor of Chris Fleming • Collinsville Senior Citizens Club • Mrs. Lois Metzger • Larry and Vicki Reulecke • Volunteers for Shimkus • Mr. and Mrs. James Conn • Matthew E. SlovinskiIII • Collinsville Junior Service Club • Marine Corp League • CHS Varsity Softball Team 2017 • VFW Post 5691 • Collinsville Garden Club District V • American Legion Post 365 • Home Town Heroes • Collinsville Progress, INC. • Collinsville High School Class of 2017 • Collinsville Home Depot • Jerry Lager, Lager Monument • Mr. and Mrs. Jerry McChristian • Mr. and Mrs. George Noeth • Mr. and Mrs. George Cavaletti