Illinois State Miltary Museum Opens New Public Display for War Flags

Story by Sgt. Michael Camacho and Sgt. Robert Adams, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

The Illinois State Military Museum unveiled a new display case that will feature war flags and banners from conflicts from the Mexican War to present day overseas operations.

The new display donated by the Illinois National Guard and Militia Historical Society will allow the general public to see banners previously displayed in the Howlett Building's Hall of Flags. These flags would otherwise rarely be seen due to deterioration over the decades, said Bill Lear of Springfield, Illinois State Military Museum curator.

"This case allows us to pull out some very rare items for the public to see," he said.

Lear said the new display is like a new Hall of Flags for museum visitors. The original Hall of Flags contained more than 300 flags from several wars including the Civil War, Mexican War, WWI and WWII. In the past, visitors could make appointments to see the flags stored in the Museum's flag storage building. The new exhibit will feature a new flag every 90 days.

The first flag to be displayed is the 90th Illinois Infantry or Irish Legion's flag, in honor of St. Patrick 's Day , said retired Brig. Gen. Stewart Reeve of Springfield, director of the Illinois Military State Museum. The 90th was made up almost entirely of Irish-born immigrants who joined Union forces.

Reeve said this is new case offers an opportunity for many visitors to see Illinois' legacy in wars throughout centuries of American history.

"A piece of cloth that may be no bigger than your normal handkerchief, but it can have a great story about where it's been and the people who served under it," said Reeve.