Raymond Gunning (Harrisburg) explains details of memorial statue at Sunset Lawn Cemetery on Friday. (Source: Loreto Cruz KFVS)
HARRISBURG, IL (KFVS) -
A local artist found a unique way to give back to our troops in honor of Memorial Day weekend, devoting nearly 50 hours to the renovation of a veteran's memorial in Harrisburg.
Until recently, the three symbolic statues standing at Sunset Hill Cemetery were painted gray, but when city leaders expressed an interest in doing something different for the 2015 service, local artist Raymond Gunning volunteered to make the statues more life-like.
“It's great that we have these statues here at all,” Gunning said, “but as long as we do, why not make them more relatable to people?”
The statues were put up in 2003 and 2004 at the Cemetery by veteran and longtime Harrisburg resident Don Cooper who raised the money put them there.
“I just think that this shows the respect of the individual who went and served the country…” Gunning explained, “just give him life, and give him respect, and that's what I can do, so that's why I did it.”
The fenced off area in the cemetery is in honor of all who have served, but each statue has a specific meaning. The southernmost statue stands in honor of veterans who served in the Vietnam conflict. Directly north of it stands one which represents WWII veterans. The center statue is female, representing all past and present servicewomen.
Gunning says there are plans in the works for more statues which would represent specific branches of the military, or more recent military conflicts.
Harrisburg's memorial service is scheduled for 10 am on Monday at Sunset Hill Cemetery, which is located just west of Harrisburg High School.