Over the past years, officers and staff of the Illinois Department of Corrections and Department of Juvenile Justice have gathered in their respective institutions to pay tribute to the memory of fellow employees who made the ultimate sacrifice - having lost their lives in the line of duty. Each of these institutions conducted their own various ceremonies. However, a single-united ceremony did not exist to commemorate our fallen heroes. National Correctional Officers Week, which is celebrated annually during the month of May, became the focal point for IDOC to honor its fallen heroes and to recognize the agency’s Correctional Officer of the year. The combined ceremonial recognition of those employees who gave their lives in the line of duty and those employees who carry on our fallen heroes’ spirit of dedication, pride, and courage have become an annual event at IDOC. There was a sense that a perpetual memorial should be dedicated to these brave men and women. On October 26, 1999, the articles of incorporation of the Illinois Correctional Employees Memorial Association (ICEMA) were filed. This memorial association was founded for the following purposes:
- to recognize and memorialize those correctional employees who, in serving justice and the State of Illinois, have been killed or suffered permanent disability while performing their duty;
- to establish, construct and maintain a permanent and suitable monument to record the names of the fallen for posterity;
- to provide for the children and/or families of those who were killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty through the establishment of scholarships, grants in aid, gifts or financial assistance;
- to create, in the name of those who have been killed or disabled, a living memorial in the form of scholarships, grants in aid and awards for the eligible children of the membership of ICEMA and for other worthy purposes as approved by the membership;
- to recognize those corrections professionals whose contributions to serving justice, serving Illinois and serving employees merit the acknowledgement and praise of their colleagues and for other desirable purposes;
- to serve the children of the membership by the distribution of its funds for educational purposes and for other charitable purposes.
The employees of IDOC and DJJ have made this dream happen. It is their lasting tribute to their fellow employees. It is their memorial. The granite wall unveiled May 10, 2001, represents the groundbreaking for the memorial wall. The names of our fallen heroes are inscribed on additional granite blocks, which are featured on both sides of the memorial wall.
The dream has become a reality.