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Veterans Tribute Dedication and D-day Celebration Held at Kaskaskia College

On June 6, the 70th anniversary of D-day, under a bright sky, Kaskaskia College hosted a gathering to dedicate the Veterans Tribute on the main campus near Centralia.  The event featured live music from the Independent Silver Band, speakers from Veterans Tribute Committee members and area legislators, and dedication and naming of the Tribute and its constituent parts.

 

The master of ceremonies for the dedication was Dr. Dee Boswell, member of the Veterans Tribute Committee, member of the KC Board of Trustees, and an Air Force veteran.  Following Dr. Boswell’s welcoming address, a Posting of the Colors was performed by the Beckemeyer American Legion Honor Color Guard.

 

It was a beautiful morning for not only dedicating the Tribute, but for honoring the 70th anniversary of D-day, the day the invasion of Normandy by Allied forces took place which turned the tide in the second World War.

 

Prior to the speakers, the constituent parts of the Tribute were dedicated and named.  The walls, on which 25,000 names of area veterans and their branch of service are currently displayed in black granite, were named the Kaskaskia College Board of Trustees Veterans Wall, The Frank and Katherine Beasley Veterans Wall, The Dr. Dee Boswell Veterans Wall, and the Travis Henson and Craig Roper Veterans Wall.

 

Pylons bearing the seals of the five branches of the U.S. Military service were unveiled, along with a pylon bearing the names of Medal of Honor recipients from the area, a pylon bearing the Seal of the State of Illinois, the Kaskaskia College seal on a pylon, and a pylon with the Great Seal of the United States.

 

The centerpiece of the Warrior’s court is a large bronze American Eagle sculpture.  For his dedication to the Tribute project and for his vision in designing the Tribute and procuring the sculpture, the sculpture was christened the Don Berdeaux Eagle Sculpture.  Affixed to the base of the sculpture is a bronze plaque commemorating all of the members of the Veterans Tribute Steering Committee.

 

The Tribute as a whole was dedicated to the person who envisioned it and worked tirelessly to see it come to fruition.  Visitors to the Tribute will see, at the entrance, a granite slab that reads “The Jim Beasley Veterans Tribute at Kaskaskia College.”

 

Each speaker invited to the podium reflected on that momentous day, and on the gratitude each of us owes to those who sacrificed so much, not only on D-day, but in every conflict our uniformed men and women have fought to keep the ideals of freedom alive.  Speakers included spokespersons for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and U.S. Representative John Shimkus, Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter, and Illinois State Representative John Cavaletto.  Former Kaskaskia College student Amy Jo Sapp of Salem read her poem, “The Wall.”

 

The keynote speakers for the ceremony were Dr. Jim Underwood, President of KC and U.S. Army Lt. Colonel (ret.), a veteran of the Vietnam War, and Mr. Jim Beasley, U.S. Army veteran, for whom the Tribute was named.

 

Dr., Underwood pointed out that in the audience was Mr. Scotty Mistlehorn, a World War II veteran who not only took part in the D-day invasion, but also fought in the Pacific theater.  Dr. Underwood went on to recount why the Tribute is so important to him personally.  His father, Caroll Underwood, who was wounded in Normandy,  appears on the Tribute just above his own name.  His father died when Dr. Underwood was only 12 years old.  He expressed gratitude that his name will be linked with his father’s, literally etched in stone.  He also paid tribute to his father-in-law, Cecil Porter, whom he regards as a second father.  Mr. Porter’s name also appears on the Tribute.

 

Mr. Jim Beasley was the final speaker of the ceremony.  He expressed gratitude to all of those who helped bring the Tribute that bears his name to fruition, and spoke on the historical significance of the day and the honor due to all American veterans.

 

The ceremony was closed with a 21 gun salute by the Beckemeyer American Legion Post 1227 Honor Color Guard and the playing of “Taps” by the Independent Silver Band.

 

A reception followed in the College’s Lifelong Learning Center, where the name of Mrs. Cyd Bianchi was drawn as the winner of the “Flight of Eagles” quilt raffle.

 

The ceremony marked the completion of Phase 1 of the Tribute, with a Phase 2 and Phase 3 being planned and with funds currently being raised.  For more information on the Jim Beasley Veterans Tribute, please visit www.veteranstributeatkc.com, visit their Facebook page Veterans Tribute at Kaskaskia College, or contact Travis Henson at 618-545-3177 or by email at thenson@kaskaskia.edu.  Names to be added to the next phase’s walls and donations for the Tribute are being accepted, including brick pavers that surround the Eagle sculpture on the Warrior’s Court.​



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