EAST MOLINE, Illinois -- Classmates from United Township High School's class of 1967 presented a commemorative plaque to honor fallen heroes who served our country.
The plaque was unveiled to the community Friday evening, December 15th at UTHS in between the sophomore and varsity basketball games. Students, veterans, and their family members filled the gymnasium for the ceremony; about 160 relatives were invited to come see the ceremony.
Wall of Heroes Committee Chair Steve Gelande said the plaque was in honor of any former United Township student who was killed in the military, was missing in action, or who succumbed to wounds.
This plaque was three years in the making, Gelande said. A team of about 10 classmates spent hundreds of hours to make this possible. They started out with a fundraising goal of $20,000 and ended up collecting $21,000, thanks to donations from individuals, businesses, veterans groups, and other foundations.
Current United Township students were called upon to help with the design. Gelande said about a half-dozen art students submitted designs for what the plaque should look like, and elements were taken from each one to make the final product.
"I think it's made them really proud to be part of this, because it's former classmates," said Gelande, "and we're hoping that they will stop and take a look at this and just be honored for what other classmates did for them."
The 400-pound plaque is made of bronze and lists the 52 former UT students who gave their lives in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. They ranged in age from 17 to 23 years old.
"Some of these heroes were the same age as these high school kids, so we just wanted something they could be proud of and it could be honored forever."
An attendee, Connie O'Connor said that she was there in honor of her veteran uncle, who passed away when she was only five years old. Hear her thoughts on the ceremony in the video below.