MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Veterans, their families and community members joined the Lake Land College community in honoring service men and women during a ceremony dedicating the newly installed Veterans Memorial Wall on Friday afternoon.
The memorial honors all veterans, past, present, and future.
Spanning 28 feet in length, the black granite wall depicts the six characteristics of the U.S. Armed Forces with a centered quote, “Never forget those who bore the scars and those who gave everything.”
The memorial is located in a scenic area on the west side of campus and offers visitors an opportunity to reflect on those it honors.
Former State Representative and Air Force Veteran Mike Weaver, provided the keynote and participated in the ceremony as a member of the American Legion Post #88.
“The wall is an inspirational monument to the relationship between veterans and education. I want to thank Lake Land College for the memorial and what it means to our veterans,” Weaver said.
Sullivan, a Navy veteran who has served on the Lake Land College Board of Trustees for more than 30 years, said veteran students are woven into the history of the college.
“Throughout all of those years living in this area and serving as a board member, there was always one thing I kept thinking about: we need a memorial to those who served. In the early years, there were a lot of veterans attending, not only at Lake Land, but at many colleges throughout Illinois and the nation. Veterans, especially those who were returning from the war in Viet Nam, became a big part of getting the community college system in Illinois up and running strong.”
“Today, we see another surge of returning veterans, this time from Iraq and Afghanistan. They too come to the community college system to start a new life through education. And, others are serving while attending Lake Land through the financial aid benefits the military service offers,” Sullivan added.
Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said the school has welcomed countless veterans to campus during the past 52 years.
“Members of the college community are proud to offer those who served, or are currently serving in the U.S. military and their family members, the opportunity to change their lives through the power of education. Not only do they inspire all of us to reach our fullest potential, they share their valuable experiences and knowledge in the classroom,” Bullock said.
Members of the American Legion Post #88 and VFW Post 4325 began the ceremony with a presentation of colors and concluded it with the playing of taps.
“The Foundation is honored to share this wonderful structure on campus that signifies the powerful trilogy of the community college, rural America and selfless service,” Lake Land College Foundation Executive Director for College Advancement Jacqueline Joines added.
Sullivan explained that there will be a second phase of the memorial in which a solid granite flag will be constructed.