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Highland veteran organizations to dedicate memorial wall on 4th of July

Belleville News-Democrat - 7/2/2018

July 02--The finishing touches have been put on a long-awaited project just in time for its dedication on the nation's birthday.

At 10 a.m. on July 4, American Legion Lee Iten Post 439 and Veterans of Foreign War Post 5694 will dedicate the Wall of Remembrance and Honor at Dennis H. Rinderer Park on Veterans Honor Parkway in Highland.

"Come rain or shine, it is going to be dedicated," said VFW member Kate Broadhurst.

The wall recognizes and remembers Highland veterans killed in action during both World Wars, as well as and the city's first-responders who lost their lives in the line of duty. The project has been in the works for the last couple of years. But last week, the Legion and VFW mounted the 18 memorial bronze plaques, alongside a flag pole, and completed the final landscaping touches around the wall.

"This is beyond what I expected," said Bill Halcomb, the Legion's commander.

On the day of the dedication, guests are allowed to park on both sides of Veterans Honor Parkway, in addition to the parking lot at Rinderer Park, Braodhurst said. The organizations will set up tents to help shelter observers from the heat.

"The Honor Guard will be there in full regalia," Halcomb said.

The ceremony will be opened by the combined VFW and Legion Colors and Honor Guard, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Jeannie Korte. Halcomb said there will also be an opening prayer and benediction led by the Rev. Phil Chapman.

Welcoming statements will be given by the Master of Ceremonies Lenny Gall, followed by opening remarks from Halcomb and VFW Commander Miker Voegele.

Gold Star, veteran and first responder families in attendance will be recognized, as well as the project committee and its other major contributors will be recognized. These groups and businesses include the city of Highland, which funded the project; the city Parks and Recreation Department; Highland Area Community Foundation; Oates Associates Inc.; Korte & Luitjohan Contractors Inc.; Russ Erlinger Crane Inc.; Woodmen Life Chapters 105 and 6049; Diversified Services; and Lager Monument Company.

State Rep. Charlie Meier will give a tribute to the veterans which will be followed by a speech given by Mayor Joe Michaelis.

"We kind of asked him to be our keynote speaker, because this is his vision. This is one of the final touches to the veterans park," Broadhurst said.

A wreath will be placed on the monument following the closing prayer, at which time a moment of silence will be observed for those killed in the line of duty.

The ceremony will also include a flag being raised on the flagpole behind the wall for the first time.

"And that flag will remain raised and lighted from dusk till dawn," Halcomb said.

The dedication will conclude with a 21 gun salute, followed by Taps and closing remarks. Following the dedication there will be a veteran meet and greet.

In the event of rain or inclement weather, the dedication will be moved to the VFW post home, located at 1900 VFW Road in Highland.

"Even if it did rain, nothing could dampen the spirit of what this means to all of us," Broadhurst said.

The committee members would like to stress that, after the dedication, the sale of engraved bricks and granite slab pavers will continue perpetually. The bricks can be used to honor any local veteran or first-responder-- police officer, firefighter or EMT -- alive or deceased. Order forms will still be available at the Highland City Hall, the Highland Chamber of Commerce, Louis Latzer Memorial Public Library, VFW Post 5694 and American Legion Post 439.

"We're excited about the dedication, but we are more excited about the continuation of the memorial," Halcomb said.

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(c)2018 the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.)

Visit the Belleville News-Democrat (Belleville, Ill.) at www.bnd.com

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