A history of veterans and veterans' groups in Mount Prospect
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As we celebrate Mount Prospect's 100th year, it is important to reflect back on the veterans who made life here in Mount Prospect possible.
World War I began in 1914, and by 1917, the year Mount Prospect was incorporated, the United States entered the battlefield. Young farmers and sons dropped their hoes and hay forks to enlist in the military to help protect their friends, family and homes.
Edwin Wille and Christ Wille, sons of William Wille who built Central School, were among the men from Mount Prospect who fought overseas in Europe. When the war ended in 1918, Mount Prospect held an Armistice Day parade down Central Road.
Mount Prospect residents were just as eager to protect their homes in the 1940s when World War II broke out across Europe, and once again men and women rushed to answer the call. South Baptist Church's pastor the Rev. Edwin I. Stevens enlisted. He became a United States Army chaplain.
After World War II ended in 1945, Mount Prospect's population and development exploded. The "Baby Boom" had officially begun.
During both world wars, the citizens of Mount Prospect banded together to help support the troops overseas and the war effort. People helped by growing "victory" gardens to alleviate to strain on commercial farms, which provided food for the troops; food rationing; purchasing war bonds and war stamps; and by making soldier's kits, which were small amenities given to soldiers before leaving for military service.
After World War I, the first Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter was founded. Chartered in 1925 by Paul Holste at Owens Park, the Mount Prospect VFW Post 1337 has participated in various activities throughout the Mount Prospect community. Every Memorial Day, the organization arranges a parade, a gun and cannon salute, and a worship service to honor the memory of soldiers who have died in battle.
To pay further tribute to veterans of the armed services, Mount Prospect constructed the Veterans Memorial Band Shell in Lions Memorial Park. During the memorial's May 31, 1999, dedication, the theme of "Lest We Forget" reigned as the Mount Prospect community gathered to pay homage to the assembled patriots.
Not long after the VFW Post 1337 was formed, 16 World War I veterans got together in 1930 and decided to found an American Legion Post. On Nov. 5, 1930, a charter was approved, and the Mount Prospect American Legion Post 525 was formed. The first elected Commander was Ira Jerome Gehringer. The post has since grown from 16 to 252.
Mount Prospect has seen men and women leave for war since the village's incorporation in 1917. This community has supported, honored and remembered those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can celebrate our heritage, start businesses and enjoy a life of freedom.
These are the values that Mount Prospect's soldiers, marines, airmen, sailors and guardsmen have sworn to protect. And for that we thank them.