Schaefer was referring to the World War II Memorial in Washington,
D.C., which was completed in 2004, and to the cloaked table that lay
before the audience.
Realizing that many of those for whom the national memorial was
built would not see it, a passionate group of volunteers organized
and arranged to borrow the original 800-pound model.
The Pillars of Honor organization, located in Des Plaines, has
been taking the model and a full honor program on the road since
2010. The all-volunteer organization tries to be on the road once a
Local veterans who were present for special recognition and honor
on Aug. 5 were James W. Logan and William B. Wyles. Each served in
the Navy during WWII, with Logan later returning to serve our
country in two additional wars: Korea and Vietnam.
Also honored were:
Eben B. Welchel Jr. (deceased) -- Army
Charles W. Anderson -- Air Force
Robert F. Hoffman (deceased) -- Navy
The two-hour program honoring those who defended our country
included several forms of historical remembrances and ceremony.
WWII period songs and their significance to soldiers and their
loved ones back at home were explained and sung by John and Kathryn
The American Legion Post 263 honor guard presented colors and
later built a memorial to prisoners of war and missing in action.
Taps was provided by Larry Buttimer of Bugles Across America.
Several guest speakers facilitated the program, with George Haupt
delivering the keynote address. Haupt is a former presidential honor
guard member, with his last formal duties in 1955 at the Tomb of the
Haupt began with the interesting history of Arlington Cemetery,
where the Tomb of Unknown Soldier is located, and then spoke about
what it was like being a tomb guard.
The use of the land now known as Arlington Cemetery to bury
soldiers began with the marriage of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee
to Mary Anna Custis. Commanders were responsible for the burial of
Custis’ father and mother had acquired the property and left it
to her. She and Gen. Lee left it to their son, Custis Lee. As a side
note, Mary Anna Custis was the great-granddaughter of Martha
The cemetery first remained family property, but against the
family's wishes it was confiscated by the government in 1864. By
Supreme Court decision it was returned to the family in 1874, and a
year later Custis Lee sold it back to the U.S.
The first unknown soldier was laid to rest in the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier on Nov. 11, 1921.
Unknown soldiers representing WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the
Vietnam War have all been interred in the tomb, with then-presidents
In 1984 DNA results identified the Vietnam soldier as 1st Lt.
Michael Blassie from St. Louis, Mo. President Bill Clinton released
his remains for the family to take back home.
While there are yet 84,000 unknown or missing in action, Haupt
explained that with DNA tests today, it is highly unlikely there
will be another unknown soldier.
The U.S. Army has guarded the Tomb of the Unknowns since July 2,
1937, with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment taking the perpetual guard
since April 6, 1948.
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Of his role as one of the highest known disciplined positions in
the services, Haupt said: "It was reverence of the visitors that
brought value to being a tomb guard."
Haupt complimented those being honored by recalling the common
descriptive phrase given to those who lived during that time as "the
greatest generation." He said it was for being changers of history.
Before the traveling monument was unveiled, viewers were urged
not to touch any part of it. Those who move the monument use gloves
to prevent direct contact with skin oils that would damage it. The
traveling monument is on loan, and when it is returned, it will one
day go into the Smithsonian.
A bit about the monument in D.C.
The WWII monument is set in a 7.4-acre memorial site that has a
parklike setting with trees, a reflective pool and falls for a
calming, contemplative atmosphere. It is located between the Lincoln
and Washington memorials.
Its design is full of symbolism. (See
The entry stone reads:
Here in the presence of Washington and Lincoln, one the
eighteenth century father and the other the nineteenth century
preserver of our nation, we honor those twentieth century Americans
who took up the struggle during the second world war and made the
sacrifices to perpetuate the gift our forefathers entrusted to us: A
nation conceived in liberty and justice.
Two arched pillars stand opposite each other, representing
victories in the Pacific and the Atlantic. Inlaid metals declare
victory "1941-1945" and the words "Victory on Land," "Victory at
Sea" and "Victory in the Air" on the floors of the pavilions.
Opposite the entry is the Freedom Wall, which has over 4,048 gold
stars. Each star represents 100 American service personnel who died
or remain missing.
The scale monument was brought to Lincoln by Lincoln Eagles Lodge
2708, American Legion Post 263 and Lincoln Sons of American Legion
To learn more about the traveling monument, visit
The site offers a schedule of future engagements, opportunities
to volunteer, donate or schedule a program. You may also call
[By JAN YOUNGQUIST]
Other websites of interest:
National World War II Memorial:
The official website of Arlington National Cemetery:
Tomb of the Unknowns: