A bronzed rifle stuck into the ground housed by a helmet and grounded by a pair of a soldier’s boots make up the Fallen Soldier’s Battle Cross statue, which completes the Exchange Club’s Veteran’s Plaza in downtown Naperville.
Dozens gathered for the unveiling of the sculpture that represents the practice started in the Civil War as a means of identifying fallen soldiers on the battlefield.
“It’s not used as a means of identification anymore but as a private ceremony amongst those still living as a means to mourn as attending a funeral is not possible for soldiers still in the fight,” said Vietnam Veteran and Naperville resident, Jack Shiffler, United States Marine Corps.
On the back of the monument lists each soldier, native to Naperville, since 1812 who has died in service of their country.
“As you see the flag flying up there, it’s not the wind that’s blowing it, it’s the last breath of the soldiers that have fallen,” said Shiffler.
The bronze and stone memorial came about through a partnership between the American Legion Post #43, the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, the Naperville Exchange Club, Century Walk Foundation, and the Naperville Riverwalk Commission.
“They should never forget the veterans. This is kind of a completion of what was started a number of years ago here at this site and so this will be the finishing touch on it but it goes on in the future, permanently,” said W. Brand Bobosky, the President of the Century Walk Corporation.
Naperville Resident Keith Colvert took home the meaning of the artwork, which is scripted on the front, “We resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” He served in Vietnam alongside his brother who unfortunately did not make it back alive. He said only in Naperville would one see such an honor. “A great city, a great park, and a great place to be.”
An additional sculpture honoring veterans called The Spirit of the American Sailor is to join the “Doughboy” statue in Burlington Square Park this October 13th, the birthday of the American Navy.
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