Above / During the bitter cold on Dec. 17, 2022, Fort Payne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a holiday wreath at the gravesite of Revolutionary War patriot John Dudley in Naperville Cemetery. (Photo by Wrenne Jakubiak)
On December 17, the Fort Payne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) held wreath-laying ceremonies to honor all Veterans. The first observance was at the entrance to Central Park along Washington Street at Van Buren Avenue where the “Veterans Valor” Century Walk sculpture stands, recognizing five local young men who served in World War II. The second ceremony followed in Naperville Cemetery, located at 705 S. Washington, at the gravesite of Revolutionary War patriot John Dudley.
Honorary Chapter Regent and ISONSDAR District IV Chaplain, Lynne DeConti conducted brief ceremonies before laying the wreaths.
“While not technically an official event of Wreaths Across America, we wanted to honor veterans locally,” emailed Sarah Dore for the Fort Payne Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) when she sent photos.
“Veterans Valor,” the Century Walk sculpture created by artist Shirley McWorter-Moss in 2006, stands at the entrance to Central Park portraying five local World War II Naperville veterans returning home from the war and greeting each other.
The commemorative plaque featured with the sculpture details the connection of the five veterans.
“The heroism of Naperville’s many veterans is reflected in the unusual story of five men who grew up in this small town, attended Naperville High School, and served in World War II in various branches of the armed forces.
“Fortunately, they all returned home having earned high military honors. Four received the Silver Star and one received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
“These five men—Army 1st Lt. Al Rubin, Platoon Commander; Army Staff Sgt. Leo Kuefler, Tank Commander; Army Air Corps Cpt. Vinnie Mazza, B-24 Pilot; Navy Lt. Bob Wehrli, Pt. Boat Commander; and Marine Corps 1st Lt. Don Darfler, Fighter Pilot—represent the patriotism and sacrifices of numerous local men and women who have served our country and fought for freedom around the globe.”
Back in 2015, PN was first informed about the historic significance of Revolutionary War patriot John Dudley for a story about a commemorative marker placed in his honor in Naperville Cemetery.
“John Dudley was born Feb. 25, 1758, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.
“During the Revolutionary War in 1776, he sailed across the Delaware River with General George Washington and assisted in the capture of 900 Hessian soldiers in the subsequent surprise attack at the Battle of Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776.
“On January 3, 1777, John Dudley saw action in the Battle of Princeton, at which hundreds of British soldiers were captured. In May, he returned to Fort Ticonderoga with the militia, and in September 1777 he fought at the Battle of Saratoga, where British General Burgoyne surrendered. Following this battle, the militia was discharged, and Dudley returned home to Newport, New Hampshire.
“Dudley passed away on January 2, 1846, at his son’s home in Lisle Township, DuPage County, at the age of 87 years, 10 months and 7 days, and is buried in Naperville Cemetery.”
A local Home Depot (Woodridge) generously donated live wreaths to the Naperville Chapter, noted organizer Wrenne Jakubiak.
For more information about the history and programs of the Fort Payne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Naperville, visit ildar.org/chapters/fortpayne.
2022 Photo credits: Wrenne Jakubiak