Above / Since Dec. 17, 2023, “Veterans Valor” has been graced with a holiday wreath presented by the Fort Payne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The Century Walk sculpture recognizes five Naperville men, all of whom came home after serving to protect during World War II. (PN Photo)
On December 17, the Fort Payne Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) held its annual 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.
“We placed the wreaths as a remembrance at Christmas to show veterans are not forgotten,” said Wrenne Jakubiak. “We plant flowers in the spring and fall at ‘adopt a park’ which surrounds the Veterans Valor statue. This is our second year to do this (wreath laying) actually, and now it’s become a tradition. A speech was given by Jill Brewer, our Regent.”
As former honorary Regent, Jakubiak said a prayer.
Veterans Valor / No. 28 on the Century Walk Tour since 2006
“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 Veterans returning home from the war and greeting each other.
The commemorative plaque featured with the sculpture details the connection of the five servicemen.
The plaque reads, “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.”
John Dudley / Commemorated in Naperville Cemetery in 2015
Back in 2015, PN was first informed about the historic significance of Revolutionary War patriot John Dudley when a commemorative marker was 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.”
Though Dudley was not a native Napervillian, he is recognized in the Naperville Cemetery for his efforts to help establish a new nation with hope for future generations to live and learn.
Recognizing Bill of Rights Day / Ratified on Dec. 15, 1791
In the DAR spirit of heritage preservation, education and patriotism, it’s interesting to note that last Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, was “Bill of Rights Day.” Stories about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution have been chronicled regularly; however, acknowledgment of the third “Charter of Freedom”—the Bill of Rights— used every day could be considered too often overlooked.
Recognizing the recent 232nd anniversary of the document that was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791, be mindful that the parchment document with 12 proposed constitutional amendments first was created in September 1789, and copies then were sent to the first 13 states for ratification.
Ratification of 10 amendments featuring “individual rights” and the time-honored First Amendment took more than two years. Those first 10 amendments are known as the “Bill of Rights.”
The First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
In 2023, the U.S. Constitution has 27 amendments, including the original second amendment proposed Sept. 25, 1789. It’s interesting to note that on May 7, 1992, more than 200 years later, the amendment that limits congressional compensation finally was ratified by enough states to become the 27th Amendment.
The Twenty-Seventh Amendment reads: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
To learn more about this nation’s freedoms and how they connect to local history, culture and liberty, tour Central Park, 104 E. Benton Avenue, and Naperville Cemetery, 705 S. Washington Street. Also visit the Freedom Shrine in back of the Naperville Municipal Center just steps up from the Sept. 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk.
Thanks for reading. —PN