June 28, 2012

Gold Star Mothers Memorial Square, Uptown Chicago

Bill Matteson
Uptown  Chicago History Correspondent 

On the corner near the home of a Gold Star Mother, a memorial square was place. As I remember, it was a simulated flag pole with a sign at the top with the soldiers name,  birth date, rank, branch of service, and where he was killed in action. Seeing the picture of one such memorial at Magnolia and Sunnyside that we recently posted stirred my memory.

My wife remembers one at Lawrence and Kenmore on the S.E. corner.  They were all over the neighborhood during WW2.

The Gold Star Mother was the most respected person in the neighborhood during WW2; service flags were in the front windows. A Blue Star for each member of the family serving, and a Gold Star for each one Killed in Action. And yes, there were a few of those with more than one star. The Sullivan family from Davenport, Iowa, had 5 Gold Stars, all brothers.

I am now trying to research where the memorial squares went,  how they were erected, and by whom. If my memory is correct, they were placed and maintained by the local precinct captains.

Each ward was broken up into precincts, the number depending on the size of the ward. Then you had Republican and Democratic captains. In those days the precinct captain was both feared and respected; he maintained  his area well, and if you needed anything done all you had to to was to contact him.  

Please, if any readers have any recollection of war memorials, please write in.

Today I have had a very humbling experience by working with the Illinois Freedom Run, a group started by two bikers that now have a permanent memorial on the Illinois River at Marselles Illinois. Called the Mid East War Memorial, it has the name of every service person killed in defense of this country since the Beruit bombing. Etched in granite, the humbling part is to realize you are surounded by 30,000 bikers, and when "Taps" is played there isn't a dry eye to be found.

One of the founders, Antony Cutrano, passed away a month ago on his bike. RIP, Tony.

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