“I don’t know who put me in charge,” Tony Cutrano told me when I talked to him about his pet project, the Middle Eastern Conflicts Memorial in Marseilles, a tiny town by the Illinois River in western Illinois, “but that’s the way it is. Because this has to be done.”
Cutrano, 52, died last week in a motorcycle accident not far from the memorial he’d created from scratch and loved so much.
He’d put the memorial together by sheer force of will, talking municipal authorities into it, pushing the Pentagon to provide lists of the war dead. And he did almost all the administration of the project, for free, by himself.
The whole thing got kicked off because, watching an anti-war demonstration in Chicago on TV, he saw an American flag being burned. A Navy veteran, Cutrano decided a response was in order.
That result was the Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run, which will have its 10th annual edition Saturday, June 16. For details, click here.
From there, Cutrano came up with the idea of a permanent memorial for soldiers involved in the Middle East, the first time a tribute had been raised to the dead while the conflict in which they died was still ongoing.
For more details about Cutrano’s fatal accident and for ways to help his family — Cutrano had no insurance — click here.