Over the course of the first World War, 252 young men and women from the village of River Forest were sent to the war effort. Who were they?
It's a question with answers that fade each passing year.
But one River Forest teenager was poised to find out more. Nicholas Trivelas, 17, has recently completed his Eagle Scout project restoring the plaques inside Memorial Hall at .
The restoration will be unveiled in a public ceremony slated for 2 p.m. Sept. 9 at the school, 7560 Oak Ave., where Trivelas will deliver his findings from years of on-again, off-again research examining the lives and deaths of local veterans.
If you're unfamiliar with the school's War Memorial, you're not alone. Completed in the 1920s, the Memorial Hall originally served as a community gymnasium with seating for hundreds. As time wore on, the school reconfigured the gym to accommodate more classrooms. Today, all that's left of the war memorial is the lobby entrance, where the plaques are located. And for years, that room has been used as a storage space.
Trivelas said he was "aware of [the room's] existence but not its significance" during his four years as a Roosevelt student.
Aided by family and friends, he began piecing together basic facts of the names from those plaques using ancestry.com. Taking that information, he compiled a list with the names, addresses, relatives and occupations and dates of birth and death for hundreds of veterans.
And what he found hit close to home — hundreds of young people with familiar addresses, all of whom answered the call to serve.
"That's down the block. That's next door," he remembered saying.
He then arranged to have the bronze plaques restored professionally by Andrzej Dajnowski, director of the Forest Park-based Conservation of Scuplture and Objects Studio, the firm that restored the
For Trivelas, an incoming senior at , the restoration project served as a bridge to the past. He hopes the project highlights the sacrifice of men and women whose names have been lost to history.
"Memorials are not about whether a war was for the right or wrong reasons. Memorials should be about honor," he said.