Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Little Tribute to My Big Sister

My sister didn't imagine my reaction to her Christmas present to me. Fumbling through the program booklet and the photos in the gift bag she let me clumsily discover what she had done. Speechless then eyes welling with tears I realized that she and my brother-in-law had made me a part of a monument to honor Illinois women who had served our country in the military. Even as I write this I can't help getting emotional.

I grew homesick for my side of the family as Christmastime grew closer, so I made Roy and Stephen come with me on a two day drive way up north to visit. The gathering places around Princeton, Tiskilwa, and Putnam, Illinois (small, rural farming towns) included my sister's home, Tiskilwa's two taverns/cafes (in England they'd be pubs), and other rural settings. Every few years I love driving through the Illinois prairie farm land to feast my eyes on the rick, black earth and neat, isolated farm houses.

Back to my sister. She shows her love for and honors my mom by making my mom's dishes just the way Mom did. (Believe me, there are no short cuts.) She shows her love for us by making these dishes for us every Christmas. And we love it!

She has spent untold hours on an impossibly slow computer and travelled thousands of miles to research the genealogy of four of our family lines whose members served in or contributed to the American Revolution. She did all the work to enter the Daughters of  the American Revolution; I simply signed my name to the papers to do the same as a result of all her efforts.
 Then comes the monument located in Mt. Vernon, Ill. The town; the DAR, whose mission is to promote historic preservation, education, and patriotism; the American Legion; and many other entities' and individuals' donations and efforts led to the completion and dedication of this tribute. There was even a parade with floats at the dedication. My sister Sharon and brother-in-law Bob were there, too.
Sharon at the dedication ceremony
 "To Honor All Women Veterans" and "those women who have served" is inscribed on the base supporting two statues: one a depiction of Molly Pitcher from the Revolutionary War and the other of Maj. Tammy Duckworth who is a member of the DAR and was present at the dedication.

After her wounded husband was carried off the field during the Battle of Monmoth, Molly Pitcher continued her husband's duties of clearing the cannon barrel with a ramrod and loading the cannon until the battle ceased due to darkness. She was later honored and recognized by Geo. Washington for her service.
 Maj. Tammy Duckworth was a Black Hawk helicopter pilot in Iraq when the craft was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. She lost both legs and the partial use of one arm. Since her recovery she has dedicated her life to public service, has continued her service in the National Guard, completed the Chicago Marathon twice, and has resumed flying as a civilian pilot.

My name, rank, and service years are engraved on a brick in a wall with women such as these. There also are the names of women from the Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, Korean War, Vietnam Conflict, to the present. Some were present during the attack on Pearl Harbor; others were in Normandy nursing the wounded just after D Day. I'm truly humbled to be listed in their company.

Thank you, Big Sister. I love you.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to all those amazing women, and to you as well, Christine! What was your part in the service? I don't know this about you. I can just imagine your sister bursting with joy to see your appreciation of her gift. How wonderful to have great sisters!!!! (I love mine too.)

  2. Wow! What an honor and surprise!! Congratulations!
    Aren't sisters the BEST?