The military funeral of one World War I soldier shown in the mural is intended to honor and show respect for all Kewanee area men and women, past and present, who have put on the uniform and done their duty for our country.
The funeral depicted was for Sgt. Mike Mikenas in October of 1918 near the end of World War I. The scene is in front of St. Anthony Lithuanian Catholic Church, which you can see just two blocks to north at the end of Tremont Street. The building is no longer in use as a church.
Sgt. Mikenas is one of 19 men and one woman from Kewanee who lost their lives in World War I. Fatalities in World War II would be greater still as 89 Kewaneeans “made the supreme sacrifice.”
Still more Kewaneeans have lost their lives in service to their country, beginning with the Civil War 150 years ago, and including the Spanish-American War, Korean War, Vietnam War and the recent War on Terrorism.
The World War I soldier in the center of the mural is an illustration done by Leroy Cyrus Baldridge, a 1907 graduate of Kewanee High School who was the illustrator for the military newspaper called “Stars and Stripes” during World War I.
You can learn more from the Kewanee Historical Society’s extensive military display, including a bound volume of issues of the “Stars and Stripes” newspaper.