- Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the present estimated cost of the project and the organizations that already have committed funds to the project.
The city of Batavia is hoping to build a spectacular, $950,000 Flag Day monument in a prime location in front of the Batavia Government Center — but it will need the public’s help in the form of donations to get there.
The next big fundraising event, set for Friday, March 1, is a community barn dinner called “Flags & Flannel.” The event will be held 6 p.m. Friday at Abbey Farms, 2855 Hart Road, Aurora. Honored guests will include Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Alan Lynch of Gurnee, as well as local and regional public figures from the Greater Fox Valley area.
The Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley and the Dunham Fund each have committed $100,000 to the project. The Community Foundation will match up to $25,000 in funds raised during the March 1 event.
The Flag Day Monument Project began with the 100th anniversary celebration of Flag Day on June 14th, 2016, with an idea to create and install a marker or statue in honor of Dr. Bernard Cigrand, the Batavia dentist who conceived and popularized the annual event. But after several versions were discussed, the Fox Valley Patriotic Organization decided to focus on the symbolism of the U.S. flag.
The result is an ambitious design that tells the story of the nation’s history and of the Fox River Valley’s contribution to it through the 28 versions of the U.S. flag.
The monument unfolds U.S. history beginning in 1776 and continuing through 2016, marked by 25-year increments. The design features a 40-foot diameter helix monument with 6-foot-wide walkway around the perimeter. The flag pole is 50 feet tall and will display a 10-by-18-foot flag.
“I hope residents and visitors will walk away from their experience with the monument feeling inspired,” said Batavia Enterprises owner Austin Dempsey, one of the leading advocates for the monument project. “Visitors to the monument will have an opportunity to see, through the symbol that unites us, how our diversity and our history have shaped us.”
Batavia resident Steve Vasilion, who designed the monument, said he was inspired by icons like the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Memorial.
“The Washington Monument is inspirational as it rises majestically, and the change in stone material reveals a subtle background story of its place in history. The low, brooding V of the Vietnam Memorial seems to call forth memories of the fallen out from the earth,” he said. “I wanted the Flag Day Monument to evoke similar responses, to be experienced first on a visceral level as a sculpture, then intellectually as one reads the stories of the flag and the cultural events surrounding it.”
The monument will pay tribute to local history through its words and symbols but also in the materials used to create it.
“Batavia’s roots are in industry and mining,” Vasilion said. “Concrete, stained to match the color of limestone, will create a monument that will evoke the texture and feel of limestone, and will convey the strength of something important rising from the solid earth. The various colors of granite used in the paving and the obelisks will enhance the beauty and permanence of the structure.”
Organizers hope the monument will not only be a nationwide attraction but will be supported through nationwide as well as local donations.
“The Flag Day Monument is for the entire country,” the Flag Day Monument website says. “We have the vision, the plan and the patriotism – we just need Americans to help a little to give life to this undertaking!”