Savoy Veterans memorial in pieces
SAVOY — Savoy Village Board member Bill Smith said his jaw dropped as he was driving home with his wife on Wednesday and realized the village's veteran's memorial adjacent to U.S. 45 had been blown to the ground.
Smith said high winds knocked over the 8-foot-tall granite memorial, shattering it into multiple pieces north of the site some time between 8 and 8:15 a.m. Wednesday.
"That thing probably weighed as much as six tons, and it contained a huge amount of solid granite," said Smith, who led efforts to raise money and build the memorial, which was dedicated in November 2008.
"The stainless steel bars that held up the memorial were bent like wet noodles. It was incredible." Smith said.
More than 300 area residents, businesses and organizations contributed nearly $30,000 to build it, according to Smith.
"And that doesn't count in-kind donations of time, materials and labor," Smith said.
The memorial honored all veterans, not just those from Savoy, and included more than 180 bricks commemorating veterans from Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana in addition to Illinois.
"Seeing the crumbled memorial site broke my heart when I thought of all the people who contributed money, labor and services to it and the brave men and women of the armed forces that we want to honor," Smith said.
Savoy Village Manager Dick Helton said village officials are trying to find out if the village's insurance might cover part of the cost of rebuilding the memorial.
"We're talking to Adams Memorial, who set it, and they are taking a look at it to see what may have happened," Helton said. "This memorial was something Bill Smith worked on for a long time, and he put his heart into it. To have the wind blow it over makes me sad."
Smith said a Memorial Day service scheduled for Monday morning at the memorial site honoring members of the U.S. Armed Forces has been canceled for this year as a result of the incident.
Smith said members of the American Legion Post 1492 in Savoy have already come forward offering to help rebuild it.
People interested in contributing to the rebuilding of the memorial can send checks to the Veterans Memorial, Savoy Municipal Center, 610 N. Dunlap Ave., Savoy, IL 61874.