Naperville Park Board green lights plans for America250 plaque installation at Veterans Park     

DAR paque proposed for Naperville's Veterans Park
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The Naperville Park District is moving forward on the installation of a donated plaque at Veterans Park in recognition of the Revolutionary War and the country’s forthcoming 250-year birthday celebration in 2026.

Representatives from the Fort Payne chapter of the Illinois state organization of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) have proposed the installation in advance of the country’s imminent milestone.

The park district’s board of commissioners had discussed the plaque installation last month after taking public comment from more than a dozen speakers who were concerned about the fate of the plans.

An agreement between the district and the Fort Payne chapter of NSDAR was since drafted and presented to commissioners with a favorable vote at a meeting Thursday, March 14. 

Marker to recognize all who served 

While the plaque notes “Revolutionary War patriots” who fought for American freedom during the time of combat, from 1775-1783, the marker has an all-inclusive message that actually stretches to the present, Jill Brewer, Fort Payne chapter regent with NSDAR, said.

“This America250 patriot marker is intended to be a tribute to the 250 years that we have enjoyed the freedoms of the Declaration of Independence and with that, honor all veterans, from the patriots of the Revolutionary War who fought for independence, to those who serve today to protect this free nation, not just a limited few,” Brewer said while speaking to commissioners at the March 14 meeting.

Brewer was publicly addressing several follow-up questions park board member Alison Thompson had sent by email after the last meeting. One of Thompson’s questions inquired about the feasibility of a second plaque that would specifically recognize Naperville-area veterans who served in the Revolutionary War.

“We will not be donating a solicited additional plaque meeting your limitations,” Brewer said, in response. “We are a nonprofit, volunteer organization, and we are all volunteers. We are offering a donation that is within our means and within our budget.”

Slavery and ancestry questions also raised 

Thompson’s email to Brewer and the local chapter of DAR also touched on historical issues surrounding slavery at the time of America’s founding and how the organization as a whole has worked toward gathering information around the sensitive topic.

To that end, Brewer said DAR has been an active participant in ensuring the names of the estimated 10 million people of African descent who were enslaved in pre- and post-colonial times are accurately and meticulously tracked and remembered.

“DAR has a process through a network of registrars and genealogists from the chapter level to the state level and to the national level to complete documentation of all applications of all complexities,” Brewer said. “This is all public information, and the resources available are too numerous to count.”

Board member said she was not intending to offend 

Before casting her favorable vote, alongside her elected colleagues, Thompson went on record to state she did not intend to offend DAR membership with her questions.

“I honestly just had questions. Being the mom of two young kids and a volunteer … I didn’t have time to do a deep dive,” Thompson said. “I did a skim, I looked up some things, I typed up DAR controversy, and a few questions popped up, so I thought it was worthwhile to ask them.”

In her comments, Thompson said she believed she was doing her due diligence in asking specific questions of DAR before a final vote was cast. She indicated DAR and, more specifically, Brewer, exceeded her expectations.

“It is literally our job to question any group that comes before us,” Thompson said. “We would be in dereliction of our duties if we did not. I do not offend to offend anybody with questions, but I feel it is worthwhile. We are an inclusive community in Naperville, and I wanted to make sure DAR was inclusive as well.”

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