A Tribute to 'Doc,' a Place to Reflect
Village officials joined the family of longtime trustee Edward "Doc" McCartan in unveiling new veterans memorial.
He didn’t just serve his country — he fought in two wars, and was active in three of the five branches of the U.S. military.
And when he left the service, he still wasn’t done. Known fondly as “Doc,” Edward McCartan had more left to give, not only to his family, including wife Ruth and the couple’s six children, but also to his community.
Now, the community has given something back in the form on the Edward “Doc” McCartan Veterans Memorial. The village board voted last winter to rename the memorial in honor of the longtime trustee, who served from 1971-75 and again from 1995 until his death in January 2011. The memorial is located on Montrose Drive in front of the former village hall site.
On Friday, his wife of more than 60 years, Ruth McCartan, addressed community members who gathered at the official unveiling of the recently remodeled site.
“As far as I’m concerned, there will never be another man who can fill his shoes, whether as a father, a husband or a village trustee,” she said, flanked by many of the couple’s children and grandchildren.
Ruth McCartan expressed pride in her husband's service, which spanned World War II, the Korean War and stints in the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force. She thanked the community “for giving us this wonderful remembrance of him.”
The couple’s daughter, Pattie McCartan Holloway, said she lives near the Montrose Drive memorial and made frequent visits to the site, even before it was renamed for her father.
“This was always my place to come and reflect,” she said. “Now, I come, I park my car and I sit … It’s beautiful.”
For the McCartan family, the memorial is a tribute to a husband, father and grandfather, but it has another meaning to Romeoville Veterans Commission member and Vietnam veteran Tom Wilczak.
“When I returned home from service in a war that I didn’t want to be at … I didn’t sign up for the public shame and [humiliation] I experienced,” Wilczak said, recalling the anti-war sentiment of the late 1960s and 1970s, which was often reflected in the treatment of the veterans themselves.
Back then, veterans didn’t talk about their service, Wilczak said, but as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves, his short haircut gave him away.
“It was like wearing a badge that says who you are,” he said.
Today, Wilczak said, “We’ve come a long way.
“As I stand here today and I look at this memorial, I can say that I’m proud of my service and I’m grateful that others in this community are sharing that with me.”
A new tribute to veterans
The village spent $467,000 in tax increment financing (TIF) dollars to remodel the memorial, originally built through volunteer efforts in 1992.
“The previous memorial served the community well for many years,” Noak said, “and it is still the foundation on which this one is created.”
The new “Doc” McCartan Veterans Memorial includes five granite monuments with bronze plaques, one for each branch of the military. Other new additions include three new flagpoles, an eagle sculpture and a brick walkway. The walkway is paved with bricks bearing inscriptions honoring local veterans and fallen heros.
“You’ll notice there’s room to add more,” Noak said. Community members can purchase bricks by contacting the village at 815-886-0279, or click here to download an order form.
Noak concluded the ceremony by asking everyone who had served to raise their hands.
“This is for you,” he said, adding it is also for the families of those who have served, as well as a place for the public to pay homage to veterans.
The year-round tribute to those who have served will get its next official use on Friday, Nov. 11, when the village hosts its annual Veterans Day commemoration. The event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Montrose Drive site.