Flags are flying at half-staff Fri., Aug. 27, 2021, and through the weekend after the President issued a national half-staff proclamation following the deaths of at least 13 U.S. Marines and service members among individuals killed during attacks in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26. (PN Photo, May 2021)
No matter where you stand, when you walk around the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza along the Riverwalk, opportunities abound within seconds to pause, reflect and remember.
Designed by Greg Sagan of the Signature Group more than a dozen years ago, the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza has been in place of remembrance since 2009. Back then, Sagan’s original design had included space for its centerpiece, the “Fallen Soldier” sculpture, a symbolic work of art that was added several years later in time for Memorial Day 2013.
The bronze sculpture depicts a “life-size” replica of a soldier’s boots, rifle and helmet as a way to honor members of the military who died on the battlefield.
According to many online sources, when a serviceman or woman is killed on the battlefield, it is customary to arrange the soldier’s boots, rifle and helmet in the manner of the sculpture known as the “Fallen Soldier.” The surviving members of the soldier’s squad are known to gather around and memorialize their fallen comrade since they would be unable to attend a funeral.
This artistic arrangement also is known as a “Battlefield Cross.” Many life-size variants of the sculpture by different sculptors are located in veterans’ parks throughout the nation.
Mindful of tragic events on Aug. 26, 2021, that “All gave some, some gave all,” the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza along the Riverwalk creates a place to pause out of respect for all fallen heroes as well as all who continue to serve honorably.
With initial coordination by the Exchange Club Americanism Committee and the Riverwalk Commission back in 2009, four years later the Century Walk and the City Council with support of the SECA Fund worked in collaboration to complete the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza with the “Battlefield Cross.”
Behind the granite monument is a large bronze plaque also featuring words, “We resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
Donated by the Evening Kiwanis of Naperville, the plaque lists names of all military personnel from Naperville who have died in service since the Black Hawk War of 1832.
The Naperville Riverwalk turns 40 years old on Labor Day, Sept. 6. Our City is blessed that engaging enhancements such as the Exchange Club Veterans Plaza have found a place in history along the Riverwalk, showcasing generous community spirit with respectful reminders that “freedom isn’t free.”
Editor’s Note / Many times when these stories are posted, we include the poignant thoughts of General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964). The West Point graduate served in the Army for more than 50 years. The General commanded the Southwest Pacific in World War II (1939-1945), became a 5-Star General in 1944, oversaw the successful Allied occupation of postwar Japan, and led United Nations forces in the Korean War (1950-1953).
“The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.” —General Douglas MacArthur
Last Updated / 3:30PM Aug. 27, 2021