Welcome to the home of Friends of Veterans Memorial Circle, where you can learn about the largest volunteer-driven beautification project in Rockford, Illinois – and the largest community service project in Rockford, Illinois.

Just west of the Rock River near downtown Rockford, Illinois – at each quadrant of the roundabout where Main and Auburn streets intersect – is a plaque that tells the story of local veterans. Together, these four plaques cover service and sacrifice from the Revolutionary War to the present. Erection of these plaques in 2014 made this historic crossroads Veterans Memorial Circle.

To transform this unusual and easily missed memorial into a fitting tribute to Winnebago County veterans, we – an ever-growing group of neighborhood volunteers – adopted the grounds in and round Veterans Memorial Circle in 2019 as a community beautification project.

In May 2019, more than 300 volunteers gathered on one day to plant almost 6,200 annuals and perennials, bringing stunning color to the center of the circle and the surrounding streetscape.

In 2020, during the early phases of pandemic lockdown, we worked in small and distant groups. In six sessions over a month’s time, we planted more than 7,000 flowers.

In 2021, still amid COVID protocols, we again worked in small, socially distant teams. In four sessions over a week’s time, we planted 8,988 flowers. And during the summer-long drought that followed, we kept all those flowers alive and blooming, watering nine hours a day every other day for three months.

  • This is all the work of volunteers!
  • Our project is 100% privately funded, with no major benefactor – just a lot of people giving what they can.

In 2022, we are on track to plant 10,080 flowers in one day: Saturday, May 14.

Why are we so passionate?

We want veterans passing by this area to know their community cares to step up and honor them.

What prompted our action to reclaim this neglected memorial was awareness of the suicide rate among newer veterans. Reading that community indifference can be a factor was something that did not sit well with us. We had to show that Rockford cares.

We organized to make this memorial a place that’s welcoming and respectful.

With a parade of color that lasts from early spring to late fall, we want this spot – the prettiest public space west of the river – to be where veterans see and feel a community’s gratitude.

Join us in honoring our military veterans and their families

If you want to contribute to this cause, there are so many ways of doing so. Your financial donations are welcomed. And if you can spare some volunteer time, that too is much appreciated. We have plenty of tasks that need to be done through planning, planting and maintaining this area. Give us a call.

 

To ask a question, email us here.

To learn more about Spruce Up Day 2022, find details here or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

To help us pay for flowers, click here.

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A Rockford veteran's perspective