A group calling itself the Chicago Council of Gold Star Mothers has organized the meeting from 9-10 a.m. at 9625 S. Longwood Drive. The group was created to address the crumbling monument 87th Street and Western Avenue.
The concrete and stone monument on the southeast corner of the intersection is in the Dan Ryan Woods. It survived tucked away in the weeds near a bus stop for decades, eventually serving as a makeshift toilet.
The site was later cleaned up by local residents and is now being maintained by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. But county officials said at a recent meeting they were unable to identify anyone directly responsible for the monument.
A small plaque that reads "Chicago Council of Gold Star Mothers" is all that remains on the marker. The Washington, D.C.-based American Gold Star Mothers Inc. is made up of "mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service of our country," according to its website.
Local journalist and historian Carol Flynn said previously she believes the monument is likely tied to the group, which became active after World War I. Attempts to reach the group have been unsuccessful.
"The name [Gold Star Mothers] came from the service flags that families put in their windows. Blue stars represented living servicemen. Gold stars represented those who had lost their lives," she said.
The marker reading "Chicago Council of Gold Star Mothers" is all that remains on a forgotten war memorial in the Dan Ryan Woods. The crumbling monument is on the southeast corner of 87th Street and Western Avenue. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]
A spokeswoman for the forest preserves said the 257-acre wildlife preserve known as the Dan Ryan Woods was acquired near the end of World War I. It's believed that the monument is related to the war that ended in 1918.
Timothy Noonan organized the neighborhood meeting. He believes the monument could be moved to a more accessible site in the Dan Ryan Woods, rebuilt at its present location or re-envisioned — perhaps as a park bench.
"The ideal of a monument erected by the mothers of fallen soldiers decaying in our own backyard saddens me as a parent and as a citizen of this country," said Noonan, a Beverly resident.
He said Dan Ryan himself fought against placing cannons, tanks and other military weapons in the Forest Preserves as he "did not want anything to glorify war." Thus, Noonan has also proposed building a walking labyrinth used to promote peaceful meditation on the site.
Modie Lavin is a Gold Star mom. Her son, Cpl. Conner T. Lowry, died March 1, 2012 while returning from a mission in Afghanistan. A memorial that includes bronze combat boots and a helmet stands in remembrance of Lowry at Beverly Park.
Lavin, a Beverly resident, plans to attend Saturday's meeting. She's willing to share her son's memorial — possibly attaching the remaining plaque from the monument in the Dan Ryan Woods to Lowry's marker.
However, she's open to what others would like to see as well and said she still holds out hope that someone might find a missing piece of the monument or something else that could point to its origins.
"We have come to a dead end in finding out why and when this was erected," she said.