Central Illinois weather has taken a toll on area cemeteries, and local students are doing their part to get some gravestones replaced.
Prairie Central High School in Fairbury has a new history class this fall. The students visit Graceland Cemetery, locating damaged gravestones that belong to veterans.
“Get the veterans the respect they deserve,” said Peyton Rigsby, a senior at Prairie Central High School.
The students in Illinois History are each assigned a veteran to research for a class project. They present their findings to classmates and some veterans of foreign wars members.
“It’s great to look back and see that we did something for our veterans,” said Tanner Hartman, another senior at Prairie Central High School.
Rigsby said, “It’s a great project for kids our age to learn about a person, or people, through just simply coming out here and learning the name of somebody.”
The Veteran’s Administration will pay for new stones, as long as the research proves they’re damaged. Both the VFW, and American legion have also offered to give donations toward this project.
“It’s going to be a historically accurate stone,” said Andrew Quain, Prairie Central Illinois History Teacher. “And so the stones will look just like the original ones that were put in. Our database that we have, our online map is going to store all the extra information. And so you’ll be able to use our map online to get all that extra information from.”
Quain hopes to have the first set of gravestones replaced by next fall. The class plans to hold a rededication ceremony once the new stones are placed. Quain hopes once one cemetery’s veteran stones are all replaced, his class can move on to another cemetery.