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Surrounded by love and respect: Volunteers build memorial to honor Illinois soldiers who lost their lives in Mideast conflicts

Marseilles – Joshua Terando and Staff Sgt. Lincoln Hollinsaid are not forgotten.

Nor are the 245 others from Illinois who died in Iraq or Afghanistan who will be memorialized with an engraved brick in the Illinois Fallen Soldier Surround of Honor in Marseilles.

With temperatures dipping into the 30s and daylight fading Oc.t 29 at Illini State Park, volunteers Bob, Mason and Carrie Flatness, Paige Whalen and David Raikes cut and laid engraved bricks. They continued into the night under the light of a mercury vapor light.

It had been 6,049 days since Lincoln died in action April 7, 2003, in Iraq, and 5,101 days since Joshua died on Nov. 10, 2005.

But the dedication of volunteers are what keep Joshua’s parents, Jerry and Jeannie of Morris, as well as Lincoln’s parents, Dan and Nancy of Malden, going. They keep Joshua’s and Lincoln’s memory alive.

The Hollinsaids and Terandos were invited to view the progress on the memorial and lay their sons’ bricks.

“It’s totally awesome and inspiring the extent people are willing to go through and the time to make sure they are not forgotten,” Jerry said.

Dan Hollinsaid said the memorial comforts him, because it shows how good people are.

“For me, coming to the (nearby Middle East Conflicts) Wall site since its beginning, the trees they started to plant here, and now the bricks, in that span of time, Lincoln has not been forgotten,” Dan said, making reference to the Middle East Conflicts Wall along the Illinois River in Marseilles, which remembers fallen soldiers from across the country.

Differing from the nearby wall, The Surround of Honor, which was dedicated Nov. 8, will honor Illinois soldiers who died in Middle East conflicts.

It consists of steel panels that hold engraved bricks with the name, branch and hometown for each fallen soldier.

The memorial is an addition to the Illinois Fallen Soldier Tree Memorial that was completed in October 2009. At that time, 250 oak trees were planted on a 2.5-acre meadowland site, along with a 7-ton granite stone with a bronze plaque. Students from Illinois Valley Community College will provide a sculpture.

The site is located at the end of Hawk Road, on the far west of the park.

Jerry likes the serenity.

“It’s more special, and private,” he said. “It’s such a perfect location. There’s no traffic. The trees have grown so much.”

Nancy finds it fitting, too: “Link would’ve loved it. To have eagles flying over. He liked to hunt and fish. This would’ve been his place.”

Motivated by patriotism, Raikes said he’ll do whatever he can to make sure none of the names are forgotten. He said many others have followed suit – either donating their time to the project or supplies.

He said all of the steel and bricks were donated.

Kim Rardin, whose company Glen Gery in Marseilles donated the bricks, said it means a lot to be able to help.

“We want to be a part of it,” Rardin said. “When David approached us, we said we want to be able to do whatever we can to help.”

Jeannie carried around Mattie, a comfort dog she and her husband brought into their home after Joshua died.

She said the support from organizers and volunteers is comforting.

“Some people want it to go away,” she said of the pain. “It is what it is. ... People like this are amazing, because you don’t expect this. They go all out, and it’s really nice.”

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