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
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 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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.