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Video: Understanding the Lansing Veterans Memorial (with photos)

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Note: An earlier version of this article neglected to mention the name of the artist who created the granite etchings for the Lansing Veterans Memorial, Anna Carroll. That information has been added below the video. We are grateful to community members who made us aware of this omission, and we will continue to enhance the story with new information as we receive it.

LANSING, Ill. (May 27, 2023) – It’s a “signature space,” says local historian Jeff White in reference to the Lansing Veterans Memorial and the Ford Hangar, both located at the corner of Burnham Avenue and Glenwood-Lansing Road in Lansing. White took us on a tour of the memorial and explained the symbolism etched in its granite walls and hidden in the secret path to the helicopter:

Other facts about the Lansing Veterans Memorial

  • Artist Anna Carroll created the mural in the center of the granite wall in 1994 by using a diamond-tipped stylus to scratch into the polished black surface of the granite. The artwork took six months to complete.
    The granite slabs were laid on the floor of the building east of where the memorial now stands, and Anna Carroll used a diamond-tipped pen to scratch the images into the surface of the granite. “More scratching, or etching, would cause the black area to become lighter,” she explained in an email. (Photo taken by a friend of the artist)
  • The mural depicts soldiers from throughout American history, beginning with the American Revolution and proceeding through the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam. The figures depict a diversity of ethnicities, genders, and branches of the armed services, signifying American unity in the achievement of a common goal.
    Anna Carroll’s central etching of the Lansing Veterans Memorial depicts the timeline of war in America. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • Anna Carroll’s son posed in a uniform to serve as the model for the man at the right of the mural, but the face is of a soldier who actually served in Iraq. The man is depicted as motioning for an end to war. “My thoughts were, ‘Stop! No more war!'” relayed Carroll in an email.
    The man at the right of the mural seems to be motioning for an end to war. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • Robert Malkas has written a book that includes information about the Lansing Veterans Memorial. Regarding the central etching he says, “The historical figures depicted in the left corner are the spirits from American history and seem to be welcoming a new comrade to their ranks.”
  • Many people recognize the memorial because of the dramatically positioned UH-1B Iroquois “Huey” Helicopter that is visible to traffic along Burnham Avenue and Glenwood-Lansing Road. It is an actual decommissioned helicopter (#61-0697) with the data plate removed, given to Lansing by Congressman Jack Davis.
    Lansing Veterans Memorial
    A Vietnam-era helicopter is the focal point of the Lansing Veterans Memorial for drivers at the intersection of Burnham and Glenwood-Lansing Road, but there is much more to the monument. The other side of the memorial can be accessed from the Glenwood-Lansing Road entrance to Lynnie Ques Airport Bar & Grill. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • The “jungle path” around the memorial was made possible by a gift from actor Gary Sinise and the work of Lansing resident Tom Luberda. In 2015 Sinise made an appearance at the memorial to present a $15,000 donation from the Gary Sinise Foundation. The connection to Sinise happened when Luberda saw the play “Tracers,” directed by Sinise, at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. Luberda, a Marine veteran, began attending meetings of the Vietnam Veterans of America in Blue Island, the town where Sinise was born. Sinise pledged another $10,000 in 2023 and ongoing support of the memorial, particularly for the landscaping needs, which Luberda had been handling himself.
    Lansing Veterans Memorial
    The “jungle path” is landscaped to resemble Vietnam terrain. It can be accessed from either side of the granite wall of the memorial and leads to the helicopter at the top of the hill. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • Instrumental in the beginning stages of the Lansing Veterans Memorial were Craig Greenhill, Tom DeBold, Ed Miszak, and Ed Kurzjera. “And if it weren’t for Congressman Jack Davis and Mayor Bill Balthis, it couldn’t have happened,” said Luberda.
  • Names of all fallen military members from Lansing in our nation’s wars are automatically included on the panels. Other names from across the country were added as loved ones made requests and donations.
  • Artist Jim McLaughlin donated his time to create the statue on the hill, depicting the rescue of a wounded comrade.
    Lansing Veterans Memorial
    Artist Jim McLaughlin donated his time to create the statue on the hill, which depicts the rescue of a wounded comrade. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • Along the southwest edge of the memorial, a path leads to the POW/MIA Memorial Fountain. Five spouts of water and five amber spotlights represent the five branches of service.
    Lansing Veterans Memorial
    Along the southwest edge of the memorial a brick path leads to a meditation area. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
  • As president of the Lansing Veterans Memorial Foundation, Tom Luberda recalled the community effort that went into creating it: “We had the Southeast Side Vietnam Veterans, American Legion in Calumet City, Navy Seabees, Iron Workers, and Cub Scouts all working on it,” he said. “There were old ladies out there digging ditches and boy scouts laying stone. It was built with sweat and tears and nickels and dimes. It was built by people who cared and people who believed in it.”
  • The Lansing Veterans Memorial Honor Guard was established in 1992 to conduct ceremonies at the memorial and within Lansing and surrounding communities. The Guard typically organizes a Memorial Day service at the memorial on the Sunday before Memorial Day at 2 p.m.

Supporting and serving

For information on helping support the Lansing Veterans Memorial, visit lansingveteransmemorial.com.

For information on being involved with the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard, contact Rich Dominiak at [email protected] or 708-862-7731.

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Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.

1 COMMENT

  1. Jeff White is a real treasure! Students at Illiana Christian High School are lucky to have him as a teacher. He brings his students right to the history of the region.

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