CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A popular memorial dedicated to U. of I. students who served in the U.S. military during wartime will be returned May 28-29 to its original place of honor in the south courtyard of Lincoln Hall.
The memorial, a monolithic concrete bas-relief work called "Peace Memorial," was commissioned in 1968 by the U. of I. Classes of 1918 and 1919 to mark the 50th anniversary of World War I.
It was moved into storage during the recent renovation of Lincoln Hall.
The Office of the Chancellor is funding the relocation efforts, which will include the services of an art mover and a crane to lift the 2-ton sculpture into place. An adjacent plaque explaining the piece also will be added.
Don Molner, a retired campus landscape architect, designed and built the sculpture.
He chose varying typography to illustrate the eras of students who served and sacrificed during World War I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars. To provide authenticity, he also embedded several metal pieces, including a plowshare, bayonets and military helmets.
The artwork originally included a working fountain, though the pipes connecting it to a water source have long since been removed.
"Mr. Molner was agreeable to having it reinstalled without the fountain," said Melvyn Skvarla, the campus historic preservation officer at Facilities and Services.
He said Molner also felt that not replacing the rusting metal pieces in the monument provided another artistic entry point for the viewer.
"He felt the rust could symbolize the blood and sweat of the soldiers," he said. "The piece was never intended to glorify war."
Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise said the return of the monument is an important final step in the Lincoln Hall rejuvenation project.
“This is a memorial to Illinois students who have served their country," she said, "and there is no more appropriate home for it than in Lincoln Hall – our most historic monument to student learning on the campus.”