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Chillicothe Times-Bulletin - Chillicothe, IL
  • On the Road with Mark Bradley — Rockford: A tale of war and peace

  • Honoring our Veterans



    Veteran’s Day has always been an important day to my family. 



    My dad, Jack Bradley, began his career in photography as a combat motion picture photographer with the 8th Army in the Korean War.


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  • Veteran’s Day has always been an important day to my family. 
    My dad, Jack Bradley, began his career in photography as a combat motion picture photographer with the 8th Army in the Korean War. 
    Until recent health problems limited his mobility, he helped ramrod the Soldier Hill Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies at Springdale Cemetery in Peoria honoring our military personnel.
    My interest in historical military re-enactments have led me to Gettysburg and Antietam for Civil War events and to Fort Des Chartres in Southern Illinois for the colonial era Rendez-Vous but little did I know that nearby Rockford hosts World War II Days complete with over 800 re-enactors, battles, artillery, and even tanks each September.
    Midway Village, Rockford’s living history museum, was the site for the battlefield events as well as street skirmishes and realistic encampments in their fields and woods. 
    GI’s and German soldiers in authentic uniforms and gear crowded the streets and answered visitors questions before heading to the battlefield in jeeps or other forms of troop transport. 
    Down a shady lane, I found myself face to face with a Sherman tank preparing for battle and soon I was on the battlefield anxiously anticipating the collision of Allied and Axis forces along with a couple thousand other spectators.
    A special set of bleachers was reserved for World War II veterans who proudly came in their old uniforms. 
    I noticed many people stopping to shake the elderly veterans hands and thank them for their service knowing their numbers were dwindling each day.
    The battle itself was played out in front of us with artillery booming, pyrotechnics flashing, and the rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire. 
    Of course, the Americans eventually overwhelmed the Germans and, thankfully in this war, everyone went home happy and healthy.
    Also located on the Midway Village grounds is the LZ Peace Memorial, a tribute to the Winnebago County Viet Nam veterans.  
    For complete information on all the events year round at Midway Village go to www.midwayvillage.com.
    Rockford is also home to Memorial Hall, the first war memorial building in the United States dedicated by Teddy Roosevelt in 1903 to honor veterans of the Civil War and Spanish American War. 
    Inside you’ll find displays of Camp Grant, A World War I troop training facility once located in Rockford among many other historic collections from our nation’s conflicts.
    On North Main Street, near Memorial Hall, you’ll find the impressive statue “Victory” and at Auburn Street the vigilant Civil War soldier stands guard atop a pillar. 
    In suburban Loves Park, “Field of Honor” portrays veterans of both World Wars, Korea, Viet Nam, and the Persian Gulf and across town the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza is dedicated to peace, tranquility and diversity of heritage in our great country.
    Page 2 of 2 - The night before I had taken the opportunity to explore the revitalized Rockford downtown and experience some of the cultural diversity that makes modern Rockford tick by dining at Kuma’s Asian Bistro (www.Kumas.US.) 
    Owner Kuma J. Kim had come to the US from South Korea and had operated restaurants in Alaska, New York and Chicago before settling in Rockford.
    Why Rockford I asked?
     “The people here in the Midwest are the best, “ she said. 
    I couldn’t agree with her more as I dined on one of Kuma’s signature Korean dishes-Dolsot Bibim bap (fresh veggies with marinated beef, chicken, or tofu on top of steamed rice); Crab Rangoon, Spring Rolls, and a side of Kim Chee (pickled cabbage).
    My dining companion enjoyed a Fusion Paella, a mixture of Spanish and Korean spices and sauces served in Korean tradition and brought to the table in a stone pot.
    As I enjoyed this delicious meal prepared by an immigrant whose homeland owes its freedom to the U.S. military, it illustrated once again the debt we owe to our veterans. 
    Without their sacrifices, the lifestyle we Americans enjoy today would not be possible. 
    So take the time to call a relative, friend, or neighbor and say THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.
    For more information on the Rockford area go to www.gorockford.com.
    For more about Mark Bradley, click here.

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