News - Joliet and Will County

Plainfield plans to relocate Tribute Memorial

New location would be at Settlers’ Park

The Tribute Memorial on the Plainfield Central High School campus that honors military members who died in peacetime may be moved to Settlers' Park behind Village Hall after trustees directed village staff Monday to assist residents in making plans.

PLAINFIELD – The Tribute Memorial at Plainfield Central High School hasn’t been a part of Plainfield’s Memorial Day event for the past several years.

It was built in honor of Jeff Schwab, a soldier who died during peacetime. So his son, who recently returned from military duty, was disappointed when the event didn’t include the memorial.

“He wanted to be [at the memorial for Memorial Day] and no one was around this year,” Jeff Schwab’s mother, Helen Schwab, told the Plainfield Village Board on Monday. “But we ended up at Settlers’ Park and this is an amazing place.”

Helen Schwab is part of a group of residents involved with the establishment of the Tribute Memorial 28 years ago. They now want to move it to Settlers’ Park.

“We used to travel to the memorial on Memorial Day as part of the celebration,” resident Carolyn Dement said. “Then the Memorial Day event moved to Settlers’ Park. With the growth of the community and the increase in traffic, they can’t block off those streets for us to visit the memorial. We weren’t able to acknowledge the memorial.”

The move will bring it to a more central location in Plainfield and near other veterans memorials. The group had previously gained permission from Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 to move the memorial off of high school grounds.

“I think this makes perfect sense that this memorial should be near our other memorials,” Trustee Dan Rippy said.

Dement said a committee will be formed and work with village staff to raise money for the transfer, maintenance and other costs of the memorial, as well as maintenance and landscaping costs. Several donors already have said they would pledge money.

The memorial was constructed after the peacetime military deaths of locals Jeff Schwab in 1984 and Kevin Kelleher 1985.

Many veterans organizations require fallen veterans to have served during wartime for their families to have access to benefits. So at the time, families like Helen Schwab’s decided something needed to be done to memorialize those who were killed in action during peacetime.

They helped pave the way to build the memorial at Plainfield High School, where it was knocked down by the 1990 tornado, restored and then re-installed behind the new school.

“This is a very fitting tribute to the village of Plainfield,” Trustee Paul Fay said of moving the memorial to Settlers’ Park.