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World War Tank 11/05/18

Mattoon American Legion members John Edwards and Mike Sullivan stand with the World War II M3 Stuart tank at Peterson Park in Mattoon on Monday. The Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday will be held at this tank, which serves as a memorial to the Mattoon area fallen service members of World War I.

MATTOON -- The annual Veterans Day ceremony on Sunday will be held at a different location within Peterson Park as it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The ceremony is typically held at 11 a.m. on Veterans Day at the Coles County Vietnam memorial at the southwest corner of Peterson Park at the conclusion of the Veterans Day parade on Broadway Avenue.

Mattoon American Legion members John Edwards and Mike Sullivan said this year parade participants from the Legion and the Mattoon Veterans of Foreign Wars will continue marching into Peterson Park to the Stuart tank that serves as a memorial to the Mattoon area service members who died in World War I.

The Mattoon American Legion has close historical ties to World War I. Just months after the war ended, the national American Legion was founded in 1919 and then the Mattoon post formed. The Mattoon post chose Lawrence Riddle as its namesake.

Riddle was a first sergeant in the 131st Infantry Regiment in WWI who died hours before an armistice went into effect at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, 1918, to end the war. Riddle was an alum of Mattoon High School, and his family was one of the first to settle in Mattoon. Riddle's Distinguished Service Cross and related artifacts are on display at the Mattoon post's building.

Edwards said his great-uncle Thomas N. Edwards was also one of the Mattoon area service members who were killed in World War I. Edwards said his great-uncle was listed as missing in action as of Oct. 5, 1918. He said his family continued to feel this loss decades later.

"My grandfather never did ever talk about it," Edwards said.

As a further memorial to the Mattoon area fallen of World War I, Sullivan said the post plans to raise money to refurbish and repaint the old Stuart tank at Peterson Park. Sullivan said the tank was from the World War II era but was put in place as a World War I memorial. He said the tank has not been significantly refurbished since 1988.

The ceremony at 11 a.m. Sunday will be preceded by the annual Veterans Day Parade, which will start at 10 a.m. at 21st Street and Western Avenue. The parade will travel east on Western and then Broadway en route to Peterson Park.

Veterans and other community members are also invited to attend the Mattoon Community Concert Band's Veterans Day show at noon Sunday at the Lone Elm Room in the train depot, 1718 Broadway Ave.

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @Rob Stroud

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