A Glen Ellyn park originally used as a space to honor those who died in military service will return to that purpose as part of a $95,000 landscaping and memorial plan made possible by an anonymous donor.
Spalding Point, the parcel directly west of Memorial Field that extends to the corner of Crescent and Park boulevards, will be undergoing a beautification project this fall that organizers hope will create a welcoming public space and add reverence to an existing Civil War memorial stone and four memorial trees planted to honor Glen Ellyn residents who died in the Vietnam War.
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The project will add a "Heroes of Freedom" memorial to encircle an existing memorial dedicated in 1934 to Glen Ellyn residents who served in the Civil War. The new "Heroes" granite memorial stone will include the medallions of the five military branches -- Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. Six flag mountings will be installed -- one for the flag of each branch -- as well as the American flag.
Bronze name plaques will be placed near the trees that honor four Glenbard West High School graduates who were killed in action in Vietnam. They are: Bruce Capel, a 1961 graduate; Thomas B. Duffy Jr., a 1963 graduate; Robert F. Morgan, a 1956 graduate; and John Scull Jr., a 1964 graduate.
The landscaping plan includes the removal of invasive species and unhealthy or overcrowded trees, and installation of low maintenance native plantings that is intended to provide cohesiveness with landscaping installed last year on the west side of Memorial Field.
The project is the brainchild of Ron Aubrey, a former Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner, whose Make a Memory Foundation secured the $95,000 donation from a Glen Ellyn resident.
"Spalding Point is such a focal point. It's kind of a gateway for the community," Aubrey said. "Let's call attention to how this land was historically used and honor all of our residents who have served in any capacity in any of the wars."
Aubrey himself gave a separate $10,000 donation last year for landscaping around Memorial Field; it was matched by a $10,000 donation from the citizens committee that raised money to pay for the lights installed at Memorial Field.
The project is being donated to Glenbard High School District 87, which purchased Spalding Point and Memorial Field from the park district in 2001. The school board approved the donation last week, which paves the way for the project to commence this fall.
The park was named for Roy Spalding, who sold the land to the park district in 1926 for $6,072.75 with the intention that it would be used for park purposes. From 1926 to 1994, the park was host to the village's Memorial Day celebration, until a portion of the memorial was moved to its existing location at Lake Ellyn Park, according to Aubrey.
He said he's hopeful the landscaping and memorial project will be complete by Veterans Day in November. If not, it's likely some type of ceremony could be held there next Memorial Day.
Glen Ellyn Boy Scout Troop 41 has agreed to conduct flag ceremonies for major holidays, Aubrey said.
"I want to do something tasteful," Aubrey said. "People are going to be driving and walking past every day. It will remind everyone how this land was used."