Did you know that the roundabout at North Main and Auburn streets in Rockford is a memorial to local veterans?

Wing wall in May 2018 / Photo by Rick Westlake

When the intersection was reconstructed as a traffic circle in 2013, it was designed to have built-in reminders that this spot in Rockford, Illinois packs a lot of history – not only for the region but for the nation.

“ … when people walk or drive by these crossroads called North Main and Auburn streets, they should know. The men, women and children of this community – and those who visit this community – should know what a special place these crossroads are. And what a special place it is because of the men and women who came before us who transformed our community and our country.”

These words were spoken on November 8, 2013 by then-City Administrator Jim Ryan when he dedicated the roundabout as Veterans Memorial Circle.

He was referring to the 527 soldiers buried in Greenwood Cemetery, on the northeastern edge of the roundabout, where you can find the remains of soldiers who fought in every major U.S. conflict – including the Revolutionary War. Plaques installed on the wing walls of the exterior corners of the roundabout pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of these soldiers and their counterparts.

In the years since the roundabout was dedicated, a lot changed in the appearance of this veterans’ memorial. A Civil War statue that guarded over the neighborhood was moved downtown. Ornamental grasses that were part of the original landscaping overgrew, obscuring views of the four plaques and four monument signs. Perennials originally planted did not survive the splashes of road salt. City crews have been able to provide basic lawn care, but no weeding, no replacement of flowering plants, and no color.

Veterans Memorial Circle needs love:

  • We have coordinated a beautification project that we will maintain throughout the summer and fall of 2019 – and for years to come. We also are raising funds to replace the statue that had been moved from the northeastern corner of the intersection.
  • We want to make the roundabout a place of beauty, so that anyone going through the intersection will know this is a site commanding civic pride.
  • We want all veterans of our area – even future veterans – to have an easy-to-see sign of how our community respects their service and their sacrifice.