The city will hold a couple veterans-related events in the coming weeks. They come on the heels of a gathering late last month that honored those who served in the Vietnam War.
The first event is a Veterans Resource Fair. It will be held Saturday, April 22, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Illinois Army National Guard Armory, 135 West Grant Street.
"This is a great opportunity to offer veterans services that maybe they never knew existed," said Mayor Mike Inman. "They may even be surprised by what's out there to help them."
Jim Minor, who helped organize the resource fair, said more than 30 organizations will participate. They include:
- Iowa City Veterans Administration Hospital
- McDonough District Hospital
- Illinois Veterans Services
- VFW Post 1921
- American Legion Post 6
- Western Illinois University Veterans Club
- Western Illinois University Resource Center
- Workforce Development Board
- Peoria Honor Flight
In addition, representatives from the offices of U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Congressman Darin LaHood (R-IL), and State Senator Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) will be present.
Minor said it's important to let veterans know help is available.
"22 veterans a day commit suicide (in America). If these veterans would just talk to another veteran -- someone who's been there, done that -- maybe there wouldn't be 22 veterans committing suicide a day," said Minor, who served 29 years in the Army. Minor is now with the group YMCA Checkpoints.
"We've been in existence for about two years. We meet the first Wednesday of the month at 5:30. It's open to any and all veterans to come and, basically, talk about anything and everything."
The Flags of Love Workday
Macomb's other upcoming veterans event is a Flags of Love Workday. Flags of Love is the all-volunteer display of nearly 850 American flags put up in Chandler Park a few times a year on holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
"We think this is an opportunity to shine a light on how wonderful this display looks and how beautiful it really is," said Mayor Inman. "It allows us to be reminded of those folks that have given the ultimate sacrifice and those veterans who came home from service and led a full and active life in the community."
Kristin Terry, Macomb Downtown Development Director, concurred.
"It's beautiful. It brings people downtown, even if it's just sitting in the park and looking at the flags. It's amazing," said Terry, who served in the Army.
The Flags of Love Workday will be held on Saturday, April 29, beginning at 8:00 a.m. at the McDonough County Public Transportation/Go West Transit Facility, 701 East Pierce Street. The workday will be used to inventory the flags and flagpoles and make repairs as needed. It's open to anyone who wants to volunteer.
This year marks the display's 40th anniversary in Macomb.