THE ISSUE: Veterans Tribute Group wins Governor's Cup
OUR VIEW: Their example can be an inspiration for other vet groups
The La Salle County Veterans Tribute Group earned a significant statewide award for its effort to bring the Vietnam Moving Wall to Ottawa.
The group won the traveling Governor's Cup in the annual Governor's Hometown awards. The program gives formal recognition to communities that contributed to their community’s quality of life via projects that had strong volunteer support, met a need and made a definitive impact.
The La Salle County Veterans Group definitely checked all those boxes, as thousands visited the UAW Pat Greathouse Center in Ottawa from June 6 through June 11.
As the judges noted in Springfield when the group won, they were able to accomplish a mighty task with few resources, but with a great cooperation and participation from the community.
La Salle County Tribute Group liaison Daryle Peters said the group was recognized for reaching out to community members, giving veterans a chance to open up and discuss it with others and educating youth.
Peters added the event, as well as the award, prove to other veterans groups with dwindling membership that the community does support their efforts, "but you can't just sit there and wait for them."
Both the large attendance at the event and the award itself were well appreciated.
"It took a lot of heart," Peters said. "A lot of heart and soul went into it."
We echo Peters' words and we are glad to share them.
It's no secret veterans organizations are facing struggles, such as the Streator VFW, which moved out of its building, as memberships decrease.
But we're also seeing what can be accomplished when a community rallies around a good idea.
We see the support our communities have for veterans and the sacrifices they've made. It was just a couple of weeks ago that hundreds of people in the area attended Veterans Day ceremonies in colder than normal temperatures to show their support.
The Veterans Tribute Group was moved by its own experiences, and that energy passed on to the community, which drew on its own stories. The impact was great.
We go back to an editorial about the significance of the wall's visit that we published days after it left Ottawa.
"For five days this summer, the magnitude and scale of the Vietnam War's impact was on display for both those who have a very personal connection to the conflict, as well as to newer generations who are learning and trying to make sense of it in the scope of American history.
"That experience can only be rivaled by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
"Anyone can read about the history of Vietnam in a textbook, gaze at the statistics of the dead or see the conflict portrayed in movies, but nothing replaces the interaction that occurred over those five days.
"It provided an opportunity for us to learn, to grieve and to say thank you at long last."
Now, the traveling Governor's Cup and road signs congratulating La Salle County on its win will serve as reminders. We also hope it serves as inspiration for the next project.