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DeKalb Elks Veteran’s Memorial to be dedicated during ceremony Oct. 1

The new DeKalb Elks Veteran’s Memorial (shown here) along South Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb will be dedicated during a public ceremony Oct. 1, and the community is invited. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 at the memorial, 209 S. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb. (Photo provided by Michael Embrey)

DeKalb – The new DeKalb Elks Veteran’s Memorial along South Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb will be dedicated during a public ceremony Oct. 1, and the community is invited.

The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the memorial, 209 S. Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb, where those involved will dedicate the completion of phase one of the construction. After the formal dedication, there will be a welcome reception at the Elks lodge, with coffee and doughnuts donated by the DeKalb America Legion Auxiliary. Following the theme of the day, the reception is a military USO-type event.

The DeKalb Veteran’s Memorial was developed and conceived in 2018 by U.S. Air Force veteran and Elks member Michael Embrey of DeKalb. It was approved by the Elks Board of Directors in 2021 to be built and created as a landmark destination for DeKalb, according to a news release.

“The new Elks Veteran’s Memorial will be one of the first regional memorials that will include the sixth and newest military branch, the U.S. Space Force,” Embrey said in a news release. “More important that this memorial will be a destination for all to visit, and a spectacular visual welcome to those that come to visit Northern Illinois University and DeKalb.”

The memorial was created to honor all six branches of the U.S. military, with a total of nine flags – one each for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, Space Force, an American flag, an Elks flag and a flag to honor prisoners of war and those who were pronounced missing in action or lost their lives in the line of duty.

The large brick patio in front of the flags will have inscribed bricks honoring current and past veterans, active duty military and Elk veterans. In front of the flags is the new memorial brick plaza at 54 feet long and 24 feet wide.

Organizers said the memorial’s location is meant to ensure visitors to the area and NIU are welcomed and know the community is veteran-friendly.

“We are extremely excited to showcase the new Elks Veteran’s Memorial Plaza,” project co-chair Robin Franklin said in a news release. “The inscribed bricks in the plaza in front of the flags will provide a permanent memory for our veterans and military service members.”

The dedication service will feature a variety of speakers, including the Elks Lodge No. 765 Exalted Ruler Lynne Kunde, DeKalb Mayor Cohen Barnes, DeKalb County Convention and Visitors’ Bureau Executive Director Cortney Strohacker, state Rep. Jeff Keicher and Embrey. The ceremony also will dedicate the memorial’s fire pit, built for a local Eagle Scout project, and two memorial benches, one each dedicated to the U.S. Air Force and Vietnam-era veterans.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, or Elks Club, is a 120-year-old civic group in DeKalb that meets regularly for meetings and events at the DeKalb Elks Lodge, where its been since 1994. The Elks fraternal order has almost 1 million members and is celebrating its 154-year history.

The Elks also organize community initiative to help children grow up healthy and drug-free, assist the elderly, support scouting programs, and assist in other charitable organizations, most recently a Toys for Tots motorcycle run.

“This new memorial is more than just a dedication to veterans. It represents our commitment to supporting veterans and veterans’ families in our community,” Kunde said in the release. “We want our new Veteran’s Memorial Plaza to be a place where people meet and share the common goal of paying homage and honoring our men and women in uniform and those that served.”

To learn more about the Elks organization or how to buy a future brick, email DeKalb Elks secretary and board member Robin Franklin at ddrtfrank@gmail.com.

For information about the event, call the Elks lodge at 815-756-6912.