With Memorial Day being Monday, one local honor society of American veterans will be doing what they’ve done in Tazewell County for nearly 80 years — honoring and promoting the well being of veterans and their families.
On Memorial Day, starting at 10 a.m., members of the 40et8 Voiture 1170 will gather along Pekin’s riverfront to lay wreaths in the Illinois River to honor veterans. Members will then head to a local cemetery to decorate veteran’s graves and then will host a lunch at the Pekin American Legion Post 44 at 11:45 a.m.
Created by the American Legion after World War I in 1919 and established in Tazewell County in 1937, the 40et8 began as an invitation only honor society, according to 40et8 Chef de Gare Chris Hinton.
“It was supposed to be a fun, honor society, but it’s more of a work society now,” Hinton joked when describing the organization.
Hinton said the organization focuses on helping communities and veterans by providing nursing scholarships and improving children’s welfare.
“It’s busy all the time. We do a lot. We talk to people. We put on programs. There’s always some way to help out,” Hinton said.
The 40et8 received its name after American soldiers were transported to the front lines of World War I battles on French railcars. The railcars had a 40 and eight emblem that denoted the capacity of each individual railcar — 40 soldiers or eight horses.
Along with 42 members of the 40et8 Voiture 1170, an all-female entity of the 40et8 Voiture 1170 was started last year.
The Tazewell County Cabane 1170 was established through the efforts of now Cabane 1170 President Jodi Ales.
“The Cabane is not an auxiliary. It’s its own entity,” Ales said. “We support ourselves and we support all of the 40et8’s programs.”
Ales, who was already a Cabane member in Mt. Vernon said she saw a need to start a Cabane in Tazewell County.
“I thought to myself, ‘Gee, it would be closer to home.’ And I wanted to things here for our veterans,” Ales said.
According to Ales, there are only six Cabanes in the Illinois and around 30 nationwide.
“We are doing very well for being new here. We started out with 10 members and we now have 21 members,” Ales said. “My girls have a sock program at nursing homes for veterans. We provide socks because that’s what wears out the most and they get lost. We’ve been very busy. We raised over $2,000, we host turkey shoots, we deliver socks and we collected POW Pennies for POW scholarships.”
Hinton and Ales encourages anyone who wants to help others to join the organizations.
“It’s a wonderful organization. We do a lot. There’s always something to do and there’s always someone to help,” Ales said.
“We aren’t doing all we can do, we just don’t have the man power, but we welcome any one who wants to help communities, veterans and children,” Hinton said.