Savanna native Jay Castro is developing a metal sculpture that portrays an eagle draping the American flag over a cross symbolizing the United States and its fallen veterans. Steel salvaged from the Savanna-Sabula Bridge will be used and the sculpture will be located at Marquette Park. A fundraising/donation campaign to cover the material costs and a donation to Highland College will begin soon.

Dear Editor:

The sketch which accompanies this letter portrays a proposed metal sculpture to enlighten Marquette Park in Savanna and our Mississippi River travelers.

The sculpture portrays an eagle draping the American flag over a cross, symbolizing our country and our fallen veterans. The cross will also be the main structural element anchoring the sculpture to a concrete foundation. It will be fashioned from a steel girder that was salvaged from the former Savanna-Sabula Bridge that was demolished in 2018 making way for the new Dale Gardner Veterans Memorial Bridge.

The eagle will be welded steel with the head and feet cast either in bronze or aluminum. Steel was the metal of choice primarily because of time and cost. Over time the steel will acquire a rust-colored patina much like the Picasso in the plaza at Chicago's Cook County building.

Dave Engaldo and I met originally in 2018 when it was apparent that steel and other components from the old bridge might become available to be salvaged and repurposed in various ways in Marquette Park.

As a veteran, I feel honored and privileged to be able to design and sculpt a tribute that pays homage to this great country and my fallen comrades. One which I believe complements the new Savanna Veterans Memorial which will be dedicated on Memorial Day.

The Holmes brothers were instrumental in helping to salvage bridge steel that will be used for this project and others to beautify Marquette Park. They will, hopefully, be involved in cutting and welding some of the steel components for the project. I will also be partnering with Mr. Anderson, Technology Department head at Highland Community College, on the construction of the eagle.

Our next step will be to launch a fundraising/donation campaign to cover the material costs and a donation to Highland for their advice and assistance. The Captain Lincoln sculpture dedicated in June 2018 at the Blackhawk War Monument Park ran just over $80,000, so I would estimate that this project will run $16,000-$20,000. I would hope that the project can be completed and installed in Marquette Park by Father's Day, June 21.

Dave Engaldo and I will be assembling a team of volunteers to help with publicity, fundraising and installation. Dave and I will also be meeting with the Savanna Park District Board to work out the details and determine a location for the sculpture.

Savanna has always felt like home to me. The Mississippi River runs in my blood, much like you other river rats. Well, folks, that's all for now. Dave and I will keep you in the loop. We greatly appreciate your backing and support.

Jay Castro