EAST MOLINE — A downtown walk has led to the creation of a unique wall honoring veterans in downtown East Moline.
The wall, featuring five large insignia of each of America’s service groups will be unveiled Veterans Day after the 1 p.m. Veterans Day program at American Legion Post 227. The insignia will be on the brick wall facing Post 227’s parking lot on 9th Street across from City Hall.
“We really pulled together partnerships on this project and resources and then donations,” said East Moline alderman Jayne O’Brien. “What we did is we really reached out to the community partners, individuals, businesses to say, ‘hey we have this cool idea for this project.’
“And every single person we reached out to said, ‘oh my gosh, super cool, let me help.’’”
Among them was Larry Anderson, whose East Moline Glass Co. is handling the installation.
“The project is a unique way to celebrate the veterans for their patriotism every single day,” Anderson said. “And this is a tribute to their contribution and their sacrifices.”
East Moline Mayor Reggie Freeman is pleased to salute the veterans, too. "It's always a pleasure when we honor the veterans that have dedicated their lives for our country and to making America a better place to live," Freeman said.
The idea, much like the work that was done was a collaboration of sorts.
“A group of us sit on the (East Moline) SSA (Special Services Area) committee and we had done another project, the Commons, on 9th street and 15th Avenue,” said O’Brien. “That's a mural that’s dedicated to the armed services, those that we have lost.”
O’Brien was out for a walk in downtown when she happened by American Legion Post 227 and noticed where five windows had been replaced by bricks along the east wall.
“I was out walking one day and we saw that the Legion had these five open spaces,” she recalled. “We talked about another beautification project, and thought that that was the perfect canvas.”
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So she and Adam Guthrie sprung into action with the East Moline Downtown SSA Board.
“We thought out the idea of a mural and I just said metal sculptures would be more fitting for that wall because it’s brick,” O’Brien said. “The metal sculptures would be a more powerful depiction.”
Guthrie believes it will be a draw for downtown. So does O’Brien, who thinks schools, as well as the public, will take trips to see it, especially the public on service-related holidays.
It also speaks to the team effort both financially and with in-kind gifts, she said.
East Moline Sheet Metal cut them out, KVF Quad did the powder coating. And East Moline Glass is installing them.
“Everybody contributed something, whether it’s time, talent or treasure,” O’Brien said.
According to the release, donors include Guthrie Development Inc., East Moline Downtown SSA, East Moline Main Street, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, aldermen O’Brien, and Larry Toppert and the aforementioned KVF Quad, East Moline Glass and East Moline Sheet Metal.
“That’s what makes this project so unique. It was really a shared project with a number of stakeholders,” O’Brien said.
She believes it will have a significant effect, too.
“When all is said and done, and you are able to stand back and look at that, it’s going to be a moving experience that we won’t forget,” she said. “And will be a reminder of those sacrifices of our brave veterans.”