February 3, 2012
In recognition of his long-time commitment to Illinois’ veterans, State Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale) was recently appointed to serve on the state’s Veterans’ Memorial Commission. Dillard was appointed by Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), and said he is proud to serve as a member of the newly-formed Commission.
“Members of our Armed Forces should be honored and treated with respect in death, just as they were in life,” Dillard said. “I’m eager to do my part to ensure that all Illinois memorials established to honor our deceased service men and service women receive the long-term maintenance and care needed to preserve the monument.”
Last spring, Dillard sponsored legislation that sought to deter theft or defacement of a veteran’s grave stone.
“As the value of metal has increased, there has been an increase in the defacement of veterans’ graves, which are often decorated with copper and bronze ornamentation,” said Dillard, who explained thieves have begun removing that metal from the memorials and selling it for a profit.
By imposing a hefty fine on businesses or recycling centers found to have purchased metal taken from a military grave stone, the Senator said he hopes Public Act 97-0384 will discourage businesses from accepting metal taken from memorials—and as a result, discourage the defacement of veterans’ graves. Previously, state and federal law prohibited the defacement or theft of veterans’ grave markers and monuments, but there were no penalties for businesses that accepted or recycled stolen headstones or headstone ornamentation.
“It’s hard to imagine someone would treat any grave stone with such disrespect, let alone a veterans’ memorial. I look forward to working with my colleagues to identify other ways we can further protect the integrity of Illinois’ veterans’ memorials,” said Dillard.
The Veterans’ Memorial Commission will hold its first meeting on Feb. 7. Commission members are charged with presenting recommendations to Gov. Pat Quinn and members of the General Assembly by July 1 with suggestions on how to provide upkeep and care for the state’s veterans’ memorials.