MARSEILLES - In honor of Veterans Day, Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig announced today the dedication of the Illinois Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial in Illini State Park in Marseilles. The new memorial park was put in place to honor Illinois Soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We want to do our part to honor and recognize the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Secretary Hannig. “This new memorial site will serve as a quiet and serene venue to remember Illinois’ fallen and reflect on their great contribution to our state and our nation.”
The Illinois Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial at Illini State Park, located just across the Illinois River from the current Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall, consists of 250 oak trees, one representing each Illinois service member who has died serving their country. It also has a concrete memorial area with a six-ton natural granite stone in the center with a plaque mounted on it and a five-car concrete parking lot with handicap accessibility.
This project was spearheaded by Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) employee Steve Massey and supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The process began in April with the help of many volunteers, including members from the Illinois National Guard and family and friends of fallen soldiers.
On October 24, more than 60 volunteers spent approximately three hours, placing mulch, installing fence posts, and caging the 250 trees at the memorial site. The oak trees, materials and the use of heavy machinery were donated by Illinois labor unions and businesses. Individual monetary donations were also provided to help make this memorial a reality.
According to the Department of Military Affairs, since the 9-11 attacks against our nation, 206 Illinois service members have made the ultimate sacrifice. That includes 34 Illinois National Guardsmen, 18 of which died in Afghanistan over the last year.