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

Monument wall in May 2018 / Photo by Rick Westlake

When the Main/Auburn intersection was reconstructed in 2013 as a roundabout, 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 529 soldiers buried in Greenwood Cemetery, on the northeastern quadrant 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 beside the monument walls at each quadrant of the roundabout pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of these soldiers and their counterparts.

In the years since the roundabout was dedicated as Veterans Memorial Circle, a lot changed in the appearance of this unusual veterans’ memorial. A Civil War statue at the northeast quadrant of the intersection was moved downtown. Ornamental grasses that were part of the original landscaping overgrew, obscuring views of the four plaques and the four monument walls that spell out VETERANS MEMORIAL CIRCLE. Perennials originally planted did not survive the splashes of road salt. City crews were able to provide basic lawn care, but no weeding nor replacement of flowering plants and their maintenance.

In the spring of 2019 – and every spring since – our all-volunteer community group, Friends of Veterans Memorial Circle, has coordinated a beautification project to spruce up the area. With a parade of vibrant color throughout the summer and into fall, we want to make the Main/Auburn roundabout beautiful, so that anyone going through the intersection knows this is a place of honor for our veterans and military families.



Friends of Veterans Memorial Circle acknowledges that the grounds we beautify and maintain in Rockford, Illinois are on the homeland of Native American people, including the Ho-Chunk, Sauk, Meskwaki, and Potawatomi nations.