ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – A Winnebago County board member who nearly served in Vietnam is giving back to veterans with a handmade keepsake.
Fred Westcott has been handcrafting wood plaques for seven years. It all started with a Beatles plaque since he’s a music lover, that is, until someone asked him if he could make a plaque for a veteran.
He receives several requests to make one for any branch of the military, especially for Veterans Day.
“It’s a labor of love, and that’s why I do it,” Westcott says. “It’s a thank you. I mean, it’s just one of those things that I couldn’t serve, but you did.
He buys all his materials to make them by hand and asks nothing in return. He says the feedback he gets from veterans is invaluable.
“I get a lot of wows and tears. I’ve seen grown men stop short when they have one.
One of them is his brother-in-law Steven Wysong, who served three years in Korea and Germany.
“There was kind of a laugh as if you didn’t have to do this. But he did it anyway. I was grateful because it was nice.
Westcott never expected a hobby he started years ago to impact so many people.
“There are a few people there, but I never realized there are over 3,000 veterans that are still alive. In Winnebago County,” Westcott says.
“I’m proud of him because his heart is in it and he loves doing them,” Wysong says.
“I don’t want to give gratitude for myself, but there’s no way I want that. I just want it for them because they deserve it,” Westcott says.
He also made plaques for people he worked with on Winnebago County Council. He says he will make plates until he can’t make any more.
Westcott says if you’ve served our country at any time, you could get a plaque. He also made plaques for deceased veterans.
Those interested can email Fred Westcott at [email protected] for more information. The information needed for the plaques is the veteran’s branch of service, first name, middle initial, last name, years of service, and discharge rank.
Westcott planned to serve his country in the Vietnam War, but that was near the end of the war.
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