Touring Tri-Cities' Monuments War Markers Honor Veterans

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Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Staff Writer

As many Tri-Cities residents get ready to fire up the grill or watch the Bulls today, others will spend some time remembering relatives and friends who fought the good fight for our country.

They couldn't have a better place to do so than St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia.

No matter which war your parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents fought in, you're bound to be able to find a monument to remember them by in the Tri-Cities on Memorial Day.

Among them, the three towns have monuments for every American war dating back to the Mexican War of 1846.

All told, the Tri-Cities is home to no fewer than 11 war monuments that are open to the public, with four each in Batavia and St. Charles and three in Geneva. Each one has a story behind how it came to be.

Vietnam is marked by a monument across the street from Batavia City Hall.

The black stone monument was dedicated in 1984 after a successful effort to raise $10,000 led by Kane County Sheriff Ken Ramsey and Donna Whipple, the wife of a Vietnam veteran.

Ramsey at the time was a Batavia alderman. He served in Vietnam in 1969.

"It was around the time when there was a whole emergence of sentiment where America was reexamining the way Vietnam veterans were treated," Ramsey remembered.

The monument, which is dedicated to all Batavians who served in Vietnam, displays symbols of the fallen soldier, prisoners of war and unity of all war veterans.

Batavia lost three young men in Vietnam, and their names are engraved on a 20th century war memorial at the northwest corner of Wilson Street and Batavia Avenue.

The monument also lists the names of the eight Batavia men who died in World War I, the 28 who perished in World War II and the seven who died in the Korean War.

There's another Batavia memorial to World War II veterans at the entrance to the gym of the now-shuttered junior high school at the southeast corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street. Batavia VFW members are lobbying the school district to save the plaque so it can be remounted.

People with relatives who fought or died in World War I can visit the Baker Community Center at 101 S. Second St. in St. Charles.

A giant plaque at the building's entrance lists the 177 soldiers and six nurses from St. Charles who fought in the war. The memorial was commissioned in 1925 by Edward Baker and his wife.

The conflict with the most monuments in the Tri-Cities, however, is the Civil War. …