The Century Walk Corporation

Naperville unveils statue honoring Navy vets

October 15, 2013 — Source: Trib Local

With the Naperville Municipal Band playing patriotic marches, about 75 residents gathered in lawn chairs on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Burlington Square Park for the unveiling of a new sculpture piece honoring U.S. Servicemen.

"Spirit of the American Navy" was created by E.M. Viquesney, the artist who sculpted the "Spirit of the American Doughboy" that also stands in the park.

Century Walk Corp., which helps create public art around the community, led the effort to raise funds and awareness for the project.

"'Only in Naperville,'" said group president W. Brand Bobosky. "Those words are very appropriate because in this community, things happen."

Once the Navy statue was located and purchased from an antique dealer in Michigan, officials estimated a cost of $75,000 to prepare a plaque, marble pedestal and to complete landscaping and concrete work for the site.

"We bought the sculpture for $15,000, transported it here for $500, and it was here," Bobosky explained to the crowd. "We found $25,000 from another Century Walk project and the city council found a way for another 25. Then you people were asked to raise another $25,000 and we got $27,000."

Mayor George Pradel helped with the unveiling.

"We're very happy that we now have our Navy statue in the park — we should have a Marine Corps statue here, too," said Pradel, a Marine veteran, to chuckles from the crowd. "I hope the dove of peace lands on this statue and brings peace to our nation and all the world."

Both Pradel and Bobosky made tribute to those who helped make the project possible, which included the City Council, the American Legion, VFW, Naperville's park district, garden club and several others.

"There's no question that it's important to honor our servicemen like this," said Richard Fleming, a local resident. "My grandfather served, my father served and my father-in-law served, so this is a very proud moment."

Naperville resident Thomas Oker said he served on Navy submarines in the Pacific and Atlantic from 1954 to 1958.

"This is absolutely a point of pride for all of us," Oker said. "I fully support it."

The statue is located at the southeast corner of the park, across from the Naperville train station, at 307 N. Ellsworth St. Landscaping and a sidewalk encircle the statue, and officials said two park benches soon will be installed.