Week after week, month after month, and Memorial Day after Memorial Day the Morgan County Vietnam Memorial in Jacksonville diligently stands its post. It is seven years older than the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall in Washington DC, and In its lifetime the memorial has silently witnessed the passing of Morgan County’s Vietnam generation from youthful adolescence to veritable, senior citizens.
Unlike the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC, which is surrounded by the Washington Monument and the WW2, Korean, and Lincoln Memorials, our Vietnam Memorial is encircled by Nichols Park. For many years Morgan County residents young and old have enjoyed all the trappings that the park has to oﬀer. That surely includes the 13 little boys of our community who aged out of childhood, served our country, and to whom the memorial is dedicated.
Citizenship is not always easy, and patriotism can be very expensive emotionally, as evidenced by the fact that it has been 29 years since the last formal commemoration was held at the Vietnam Memorial. In recognition of the legal holiday, government oﬃces, banks, and select other businesses close on Memorial Day. Veterans and Gold Star families may very well have the day oﬀ work, but they don’t really get the day oﬀ. We’re grateful that our respective families did not lose loved ones in the conflict, but 13 from our homeplace did. Down through the years we’ve poignantly left it to others to memorialize the fallen but perhaps, this year will be diﬀerent.
Planning is underway to oﬀer programs of remembrance on both Sunday, May 29 and Monday, May 30. And then at 2:00 on Memorial Day afternoon, the Vietnam Memorial in Nichols Park will be rededicated. Special invitations have been extended to Vietnam Gold Star families and we hope that not only veterans, but the entire communities of Waverly, Franklin, Jacksonville, and Morgan County join us in paying tribute to those who gave their all on our behalf. Their names are etched on the modest, gray tablet attached to the monument. And by practicing patriotism thusly, we’ll not only embolden each other, but we’ll be supporting Gold Star families as they must continue to endure the unendurable, that which none of us would ever care to do.
Sunday, May 29
“Remembering Our Veterans’ Sacrifice – Honoring Their Legacy”
Elks Club, 231 W. Morgan St. Jacksonville
This program is free and open to the general public. Please enter through the rear door of the building.
Sunday, May 29
“Memorial Ceremony at Legacy Plaza”
Illinois College, 1101 W. College Ave. Jacksonville
The legacies of Robert C. McMahan ’65, Charles W. Sanders ’65 and Larry E. Welch, all Illinois College (IC) students from Morgan County who were killed in the Vietnam War, will be memorialized on the Hilltop campus.
Monday, May 30
“Gold Star Interfaith Prayer Breakfast”
Hamilton’s, 110 N. East St. Jacksonville
Attendees are invited to bring pictures, memorabilia, yearbooks and any other items to help stir fond memories, enhance storytelling and further perpetuate the legacy of the fallen. Gold Star family members and friends of the fallen are encouraged to attend, as is the general public. Reservations are required by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 904-314-0169 by Sunday, May 22.
Monday, May 30
“Rededication of the Vietnam Memorial” Morgan County Vietnam Memorial, Nichols Park Jacksonville
The Jacksonville Community Band will accompany the proceedings by favoring the assembly with patriotic songs. This event is free, and the public is cordially invited to attend. Lawn chairs are recommended.