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Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall to be on display



Illinois service men and women who have died as a result of their military service will be honored on April 4-5. The Illinois Patriot Guard Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at Booth Library.

The wall features 305 Illinois residents who died during or as a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operating Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. On the wall are the names, portraits, hometown, rank and date of death of these military heroes.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the wall. There is no charge; donations will be accepted. Visitors may enter either the north or south doors of the library, which is located just east of Fourth Street between Grant and Roosevelt avenues, about one block east of Lantz Arena.

Metered parking on the EIU campus can be found in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union lot. On April 5, the public also may park in any green or blue student lot. For a parking map of campus, visit http://www.eiu.edu/police/parking.pdf.

The Fallen Heroes Traveling Memorial Wall is the result of a volunteer project by Illinois Gold Star military families and members of the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders. A Patriot Guard flag presentation is planned at 9 a.m. April 4 outside Booth Library.

The original idea for the memorial wall came in the fall of 2010 from a Gold Star grandfather, who wanted to honor not only his grandson, but all Illinois fallen heroes. After a Wall of Honor was created for an event in Knoxville, it was decided to take the memorial wall on the road so that it can be seen by as many people as possible, according to a Patriot Guard brochure.

"We started touring the wall in February 2011," said Don Pannier, whose son, Philip, died in January 2008. "We set up the wall 60 times that year and had 30,000 miles of travel. In 2012, we traveled 72 times for 40,000 miles of travel."

Pannier said at each stop a member of a Gold Star Family is on hand to answer questions about the wall and help family members find their loved one's information.

The only requirement to be on the wall is that the soldier served one tour overseas and died as a result of that service, Pannier said. Families must request that the information be added to the wall.

The now-32-foot wall has grown in size since its inception, from 240 military heroes featured initially to 305 today.

"We're strictly running on free-will donations," Pannier said. "We sell shirts, caps and a few other things, and we also have a free-will donation jar on our table."

The memorial wall is one of several veterans activities planned on April 4-5 at EIU as part of Project: Hero. Self-defense classes will be offered in the Lantz Gymnasium Aerobics Room at 10 a.m. and noon on April 4, followed by Water Wars at 1 p.m. on the Library Quad (north of Booth Library). On April 5, the Mobile Vet Center will be located south of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union throughout the day. A veterans service fair, Rucksacks to Backpacks, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Ballroom, with a veterans luncheon at 11:30 a.m. and an ice cream social beginning at 3 p.m.

For more information about the traveling memorial wall or other veteran events at EIU, contact Stephen Knotts, EIU veterans services coordinator, at 581-7888 or veterans@eiu.edu. More information about the memorial wall can be found at www.ilpgmemorialwall.com.