Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Oak Ridge Cemetery War Memorials

At some distance from the Lincoln tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery are a number of large Illinois war memorials. The World War II Illinois Veterans Memorial intrigued me most, maybe because it featured a large white globe as its centerpiece. Two wings of black granite -- two short walls, really -- extend outward from the globe. One wing is devoted to the European theater, the other to the Asian theater.

Major battles and other events are carved into each granite wing in chronological order, with the earlier events further away from the concrete white globe and the later ones closer to it. Each battle or event is lettered and numbered, like so: ... Cherborg E15; Saint Lo E16; Southern France E17... and ... Leyte Gulf P22; Luzon P23; Manila P24 ...

On the globe, which is a sizable 12 feet in diameter, metal buttons are fixed to the locations of all of the events listed on the wings, each marked with the relevant letter and number. Button E17, for instance, really is in southern France on this globe. As you'd expect, the buttons can be found in quite a few places and at far distances from each other. It really was a world war.

At first I thought the Illinois Korean War Memorial was merely in the shape of a bell, with bronze servicemen poised on four sides of it. Then I learned it is a bell, or rather a carillon, because it started playing "The Marine's Hymn" in bells and then "Anchor's Aweigh." I didn't stay long enough, but I expect "The Army Goes Rolling Along" and "The Air Force Song" and maybe even "Semper Paratus" (Coast Guard) got their due.

All those songs, and lesser-known military service songs, can be heard at this Navy Band web site. I didn't know the Seabees had their own song -- the aptly named "Song of the Seabees" (link plays the song when opened).

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