Legion established burial site for WWI vets at Bloomington's Park Hill Cemetery
By Candace Summers
via The Pantagraph newspaper (IL) web site
Most cemeteries have designated sections for the burial of military veterans. For example, Evergreen Memorial Cemetery has four such sections (one dedicated for the Civil War, one for the Civil War and Spanish American War, one predominantly for Black veterans of 20th century conflicts, and the U.S. Army Ranger Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers Veterans Field dedicated in 2017).
At Park Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, the Louis E. Davis Post 56 of the American Legion in Bloomington has such a designated section for the burial of members of their organization. This section was created out of a need and desire for a specific burial plot for veterans of the Great War (today known as World War I).
In early 1919 McLean County acquired a plot containing 96 lots in Park Hill Cemetery for the express purpose of burying indigent soldiers and sailors of the war.
Immediately after the purchase, the privately founded Bloomington Cemetery Association filed notice with the county clerk that it was “an unlawful exercise of authority by the County to purchase a burial tract or tracts in Park Hill.” Furthermore, the association asserted that because it “tenders to the County of McLean free of charge all the space needed to bury indigent soldiers of the current war,” it also is a waste of taxpayer money for a new plot to be created at Park Hill.
Thus, a restraining order was issued against the county clerk and treasurer to stop payment for the soldiers’ plot at Park Hill.
In 1922, after a three-year legal battle, the members of Post 56 brought a proposal to the Bloomington City Commission that their organization would instead purchase a tract of land at Park Hill so their fallen comrades would have a permanent final resting place. Once the commission approved, Post 56 began a fundraising campaign to raise the $2,400 (about $42,000 in 2022 dollars) needed to purchase the land.
Post 56 held fundraising events and placed ads in The Pantagraph encouraging citizens to send in $1 or more (if they could) to help. One such ad pointed out that “soldiers of other wars have a burial place in Bloomington, even paupers have a place, but there is really not a place for World War soldiers to be buried.”
Read the entire article on The Pantagraph web site.
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