The Victory Mothers (of World War II) was an organization of women who were committed to helping the men and women who served America.
The organization was started in East St. Louis in 1941 by Mrs. Lester Thacker. Thacker, who later moved to Edwardsville, created the organization after listening to the radio account of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The first unit worked with the Red Cross and are noted for two ambulances to France and Christmas boxes for men overseas in 1943.
Over the years, the organization added 17 units throughout Illinois and one out of state, Edwardsville being the 18th and final unit.
The Victory Mother organization was active locally through World War II (1941 to 1945), the Korean Conflict (1950 to 1953) and most of the Viet Nam Action (1959 to 1975).
The Victory Mothers of Edwardsville Unit 18, are the women responsible for the construction of the monument located within the Memorial Plaza.
In 1958 the members raised a wooden cross in City Park while they raised funds for the construction of the grey granite monument. Those present for the cross dedication were: Alderman Henry (Bud)Kreuiter; Mrs. William Mayberry, VM Historian; Mrs. Louis Klenke, VM Chaplain; Mayor William Straube; Mrs. Edward Koenig, Chairman of the VM Memorial Committee; Mrs. J. W. Augsberger, VM Unit 18 Vice-president; Mrs. L.L. Kneier, VM Past President; A.H. Pauli, Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce Secretary; and Kenneth Wohlford, Chamber President. Two years later, in 1960, the Victory Mothers of Edwardsville Unit #18 along with other guests dedicated the monument.
The group visited veterans in many local rehabilitation facilities and gave items such as radios, wheelchairs, cookies and more. They visited the VA Hospital in St. Louis and the Scott Air Force Base Hospital and were involved in many community service acts.
The Victory Mothers of Edwardsville Unit #18 disbanded in 1973, its service to the country and the countless veterans lives they touched can be remembered alongside the monument they built in Edwardsville City Park in honor of a cause they so gallantly supported.
The history of the Victory Mothers of Edwardsville Unit #18 was well documented thanks to a scrapbook compiled by Mrs. L. L. (Mary) Kneier that is kept at the Madison County Historical Archive Library in Edwardsville, Illinois.