Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart today dedicated a monument at the south suburban cemetery used by Cook County for the burial of deceased indigents and the remains of unclaimed or unidentified individuals.
Preckwinkle and Dart were joined by Commissioners Elizabeth “Doody” Gorman (17th), John Daley (11th), Timothy Schneider (15th) and other appointed officials for the ceremony at Homewood Memorial Gardens. The monument will mark a site where the remains of the deceased who qualified for public burial by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office were interred between 1980 and 2012.
“This hill holds the remains of some 13,000 men, women and children,” Preckwinkle said. “We don’t know how or why they came to this final resting place, but we do know it is our responsibility to treat this place with respect, care and compassion. This memorial stone will grant dignity to the final resting place of so many individuals who otherwise might be forgotten.”
“This monument, and the attention given to this cemetery, are long overdue,” Dart said. “It is my strong hope that the burial of the poor will never again be allowed to turn into the disgrace that it was. This county must learn from the mistakes of the past and never again forget the indigent.”
The monument donation was sought by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Advisory Committee (MEAC), an appointed body whose membership includes elected officials, representatives of various county agencies, clergy, community representatives and those who work in the funeral industry.
With the support of the MEAC, committee member and Sheriff’s Police Detective Jason Moran, obtained the donation from Wenta Monument Co. of Milwaukee, WI. In July, the Cook County Board of Commissioners authorized President Preckwinkle to accept the donation on behalf of the County.
The monument contains the County’s seal and has an inscription that reads, “This monument is dedicated to the deceased of Cook County who were poor or forgotten -- may their souls rest in peace.”
Preckwinkle applauded the Sheriff’s Office for its leadership advancing the concept of a memorial for the indigent deceased and expressed appreciation to Wenta Monument Co. for its generous donation.