Mundelein officials say it's time to update military memorial

Mundelein officials want to redesign an eye-catching military memorial near one of the village's more prominent entryways.

Informally dubbed Veterans Point, the memorial is on the east side of a small, triangular plot bordered by Hawley Street, Route 176 and Brice Avenue. It was dedicated in May 1969, during the Vietnam War.

It features an anti-tank gun that faces traffic coming from the east; a granite memorial to Mundelein-area troops killed during World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; a gazebo; and a flagpole.

Four panels on the monument are dedicated to listing the names of troops killed in action, but only one actually contains names. The rest are blank.

"We have not had a resident casualty in almost 50 years," Mayor Steve Lentz said. "To me, the memorial is a testament to God's grace and mercy on our town."

Officials want to redesign the space as part of a larger effort to improve the aesthetics of key village entryways. New gateway signs are being installed at nine spots in town, including Veterans Point.

"The triangle area seemed like a natural location for a gateway feature while upgrading the memorial," Mundelein Community Development Director Amanda Orenchuk said in a memo to trustees.

But installing such a sign would be difficult with the current memorial features in place, and not knowing how the site would be redesigned, Orenchuk told trustees during a public discussion last week.

Under the current proposal, the anti-tank gun and the other memorial elements would be moved to the west side of the park. The gazebo would be demolished and trees would be planted on the west side of the park near the relocated memorial. A fountain, benches, a footpath and other elements have been proposed, too.

A cost estimate hasn't been released.

Representatives of American Legion Post No. 867 maintain the anti-tank gun on the site. Both it and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7191 have backed the redesign plan.

"The post looks forward to the completion of this project by the village," American Legion post commander Wallace Frasier said in a recent letter to Lentz.

With the veterans' support secured, village administrators are drafting a resolution approving the site's redesign. The board could finalize the plan when it meets Nov. 26.

The work likely would happen whenever officials improve the roadway on that stretch of Hawley Street, Lentz said.

"(That's) still at least a few years away," he said.

Even though Mundelein families have been spared the tragedy of a wartime casualty for decades, Lentz believes the memorial continues to serve an important purpose.

"The men listed died fighting against evil forces opposed to individual liberty," he said. "The monument helps to tell young people about freedom and the historical cost to acquire and maintain it."

U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider speaks to Vietnam veterans and their families during a 2017 ceremony at Mundelein's military memorial. Village officials are considering a redesign of the memorial. Daily Herald File Photo, 2017
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