ARCOLA -- The seven sons of Roy and Lilly Ghere could easily be remembered as part of "an extraordinary family," excelling in athletics and contributing to Arcola's history in other ways.
"You can't help but think of the Ghere boys" when considering the history of successful Arcola High School football program, was one part of their stories local historian Sue Stout mentioned Sunday.
But what was recognized was for their "sacrifice" and because they "answered the call" when their country needed it, she said.
A ceremony honored the fact that all seven Ghere brothers served in the military during World War II and marked the recent renaming of Illinois Route 133 through Douglas County as "the Ghere Brothers Memorial Highway."
"Just as all families sacrificed in some way during World War II, the Ghere brothers answered the call," Stout said.
A large crowd that included about 120 members of the Ghere family attended the ceremony at the Arcola Fire Department to hear how the brothers, part of a family of 17 children, entered the war and how all but one returned home.
Bobby Ghere married and was inducted into the Army in September 1943, a few months after graduating high school. Stout told how he was wounded and hospitalized but then took part in "continuous battle" for seven months after he was released.
Reading from a history of the Ghere family, Stout said it was eventually learned that Bobby Ghere and a small group of soldiers held off a larger contingent of Germans. During that battle in March 1945, Ghere and another soldier went to get more ammunition for their unit, only to be ambushed and killed.
The other brothers mostly resettled in Arcola or the area after they returned, including Russ, who taught and coached at Villa Grove, where the football field is named for him.
The others -- John, George, Donnie, Harry and Jim -- made their marks in professions, with civic organizations and as family men, Stout also said. The last of the brothers, Harry, died in 2013 at the age of 91.
Still, several hands were raised in the ceremony's audience when Stout asked if any great-great-grandchildren of Russ and Lilly Ghere were in attendance.
Dan Ghere, Bobby Ghere's son, received a replica of the sign that will designate Route 133 as the Ghere Brothers Memorial Highway from area state Sen. Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet).
Ghere said the honor came as a surprise to the family and it showed that Arcola viewed the seven brothers "in the highest regard."
"They instilled in us our community spirit and pride," he said of the brothers and their 10 sisters as well. "We are saddened by the fact that none of the brothers or sisters are alive today. It would have meant so much to them."
Rose sponsored the joint state House-Senate resolution that led to the road's designation. He and others credited retired Arcola physician Robert Arrol for initiating the effort.
Sunday's ceremony concluded with an unveiling of the sign on Route 133 designating the road in honor of the Ghere brothers.