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SILVIS – With full military honors for the sacrifice of Silvis’ fallen war heroes, the eight men’s descendants along with the City of Silvis and John Deere Harvester Works employees celebrated the completion of a two-year-long Operation Hero Street mission. Those gathered in the bright sunshine Wednesday, Oct. 12, at the Hero Street Monument and Memorial Park at 145 Second St., also used the occasion to rededicate the sites honoring the service of the Second Street soldiers who fought and died serving the nation. The stars of the celebration were, in fact, stars: Eight extra-large steel laser-cut ones made by skilled John Deere employees at the East Moline plant and engraved with the names of each of the fallen men celebrated as the Hero Street 8. Those heroes – who all came from that tiny two-block area in Silvis – are: Peter Macias, Tony Pompa, Frank Sandoval, Claro Soliz, Joe Sandoval, William Sandoval, Johnny Munos and Joseph Gomez. In addition to reading a roll call of the dead and sharing some of their remarkable stories, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Jurasek lauded both the memorial and the street as an “act of remembrance that is so personal” and is “done deliberately and with a purpose.” “These are not just local heroes. They are national treasures,” added the deputy commanding general for support at the First Army headquarters on Rock Island Arsenal Island. Those fallen heroes were top of mind for Silvis Mayor Matt Carter, who said he began the day worrying that morning showers would dampen the afternoon event. “I think we have eight angels up on the top level working for us today,” he said. He also reminded the crowd that Hero Street, which then was home to many new Mexican immigrants – some who lived in railroad box cars, was the last street in Silvis to be paved and “the first street in America to be recognized and celebrated as a street of heroes.” More than 100 people crowded around the stage for the ceremony. Many accepted an invitation from Felicia Knary – a member of Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Achievement (HOLA) and a Harvester Works employee who was a leader of Operation Hero Street – to stick around and talk, listen to the music and sample the wares of a pair of food trucks. Serving as a backdrop to the festivities was a massive piece of John Deere farm equipment as well as a pair of special John Deere gators created by the company’s Horicon, Wisconsin, plant to honor soldiers and members of law enforcement. Attendees also were encouraged to walk the area to see the new stars that were made and painted at East Moline’s John Deere Harvester Works. They are intended to replace the stars painted on the street as part of an earlier United Township High School art class project. Over time, those painted stars, some of which are still visible have weathered and faded. The steel stars will serve as a more permanent marker and the city parks department worked with current homeowners to get permission before they carefully set the stars in concrete in front of the homes where each of these men once lived. The idea for the durable markers came – like a surprising number of good things have – from the COVID-19 lockdown. Each year, John Deere and its Military Employee Resource Group (MERG) organizes Veterans Day Events. In 2020, because of the pandemic, MERG had to conduct those celebrations remotely. For Kim Matthies, a Deere Harvester employee who comes from a long line of military veterans, Hero Street was a perfect place to do it from in the Quad Cities. While filming the segment, Ms. Matthies said she also walked the street and saw the old markers disappearing and began thinking about ways to replace them. She reached out to her bosses at John Deere and Kevin Blount, a co-founder of MERG, to share her idea and get the steel star project launched. Once the City of Silvis gave its OK, Deere quickly jumped on board. Deere Harvester fabricators created a prototype, and the project began to take shape. In addition, Silvis also worked to obtain permission from the current property owners to host the signs on their properties. And once the stars were completed, the city workers laid them in concrete in flat front yards where they are easily seen. Elsewhere at other homes, due to the hilly terrain, city workers had to create alcoves via retaining walls to hold the new permanent makers. The original hope for those working on Operation Hero Street mission was for a Veteran’s Day 2021 unveiling, but supply chain issues presented constant challenges and slowed completion of the mission, Ms. Matthies said. But Mr. Blount told the crowd, “this project was important” and those issues were “not going to stop us.” For Ms. Matthies the timing of Wednesday’s event was perfect since it fell during Hispanic Heritage Month and allowed Operation Hero Street to honor the Mexican heroes in “the best way possible.” The descendants of the Hero Street fallen also were pleased at the event and its timing. Among them was Deere Harvester employee Brian Sandoval, who also is a member of the Hispanic/Latino Leadership Council (HLLC). “My great-grandmother’s house now has two stars in front of it,” he said from the podium. Mr. Sandoval, whose family boasts more than 100 years of service at John Deere, credited those two fallen Sandoval family heroes with inspiring multiple generations of his family, including his own, to succeed.