Fox Valley Chapter John Cook Wreath Laying
Observations on Revolutionary War Soldiers in Illinois
Today we are gathered to honor the memory of John Cook. This is an opportunity to reflect on and reconnect with the values that gave birth to our country.
John Cook’s life was similar to other Revolutionary War soldiers buried in northern Illinois.
John enlisted in the summer of 1776. He was only 14 years old. He answered the call before a razor had touched his cheek and only weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
His service as a soldier came in segments. John answered his country’s call many times. He fought at Flatbush during the Battle of Brooklyn.
John Cook grew to manhood during the revolution and was present to see Lord Cornwallis surrender to General George Washington at Yorktown, the victory that won the Revolution. In a way, we are standing in the presence of Washington when we honor John Cook.
After the war, John Cook was a pioneer and moved several times during his lifetime following opportunities in a rapidly expanding country. Like his fellow compatriots, he had a son who fought in the War of 1812.
John Cook came to Illinois in his old age to live with that son. Children took care of their parents in those days. Families were strong.
John Cook, like all of his compatriots, was proud of his service in the cause of Liberty. Imagine his thrill in 1835 during the July 4th parade when he was carried aloft on the shoulders of the men of this town. Soldiers were honored in those days.
During John’s lifetime the population of the United States increased from less than 2 million to almost 20 million. The telegraph, the steamboat, and the railroad were all invented and introduced during his lifetime transforming America and the world.
John Cook was almost 76 when he died. Although his life span compares favorably with current ones, it is amazing to realize that most of his compatriots buried in northern Illinois lived to their late 80s or early 90s. This is, indeed, a special group.
Without John Cook and his fellow citizen soldiers, there is no United States. Without the inspiring and compelling example of self-government in America, the whole world would be worse off in every way. Progress requires individual liberty.
John Cook and his compatriots changed the world. We remember them. Thank you for honoring his memory today.