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  • Sydney Kirages

A Different Kind of Homecoming: The Dedication of Veterans Park

By Sydney Kirages

This weekend is Homecoming Weekend at Lake Forest High School. The weekend kicks off with the Homecoming football game against Zion High School on Friday night and the annual dance on Saturday evening. In addition to the Homecoming festivities, on Sunday, Sept. 24 we have the opportunity to celebrate a different kind of homecoming as Lake Forest will welcome its fallen heroes home with the dedication of Veterans Park. Located at the corner of Deerpath and Green Bay Road, Veterans Park is a beautiful green space, where a Veterans Memorial pays homage to the brave Lake Forest veterans who gave their lives serving our country since World War I.

Veterans Park will be dedicated on Sunday afternoon.

Planning sessions for Veterans Park began in 2017 after the City of Lake Forest acquired the property through a land swap with Lake Forest Open Lands. Since then, and with input from the City Council, the local American Legion McKinlock Post 264, and the public, a redesign for the park was envisioned and brought to fruition.

As will be revealed Sunday, the Veterans Memorial will comprise a 17-foot-long, eight-foot-tall, and one-foot-wide granite slab. On one side of the slab is a 10-foot-long bronze eagle, and the words “We Honor Their Sacrifice” are engraved. The other side will be etched with six stars, representing the branches of the military, the phrase “They Are Not Forgotten,” the American Legion emblem, and a dedication to Lt. George Alexander McKinlock Jr., who was killed during World War I. It will also include a separate plaque that lists all known Lake Forest residents who died for their country since World War I and a QR Code that will link to information about each of the fallen soldiers.

The dedication ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. The Lake Forest High School band will be in attendance. Presentations will be made by Lake Forest’s Mayor Randy Tack, Joe Mobile from Lake Forest Parks and Recreation, and Tom Marks on behalf of the American Legion. The ceremony will close with a military salute to the fallen soldiers wherein rifles will be fired and taps will be blown.

Marks encourages all students and community members to participate in the dedication.

“It’s important for people here to realize that freedom isn’t free,” said Marks. Recognizing that military life is not for everyone, he emphasized that these soldiers paid the price, and they should be remembered with respect.

He also noted that other cities have “a monument to honor our service people and the only monument we had [in Lake Forest] was the flag in Market Square, and I think a very low percentage of people understand that that is a monument. Veterans Park will pay proper respect to our veterans.”

Therefore, after celebrating LFHS’s 2023 Homecoming, consider coming to the dedication of Veterans Park. In giving our fallen heroes this park, we can give them the homecoming they deserve – a permanent place in our community. Sydney Kirages is a student at Lake Forest High School.


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