WWII veteran to be honored in social studies hallway


Photo from DOI archives

Mr. Zale’s uniform previously hung above the main entrance security desk.

Hannah Boufford, Staff Writer

When summer construction concludes at the beginning of next school year, there will be a new addition to the walls of Libertyville High School. The military uniform of Mr. Jim Zale — a World War II veteran and D-Day survivor — will be hung on the walls of the hallway between the cube and the main upstairs hallway.

It previously hung above the security desk in the lobby, though with the redesign of the desk, the framed uniform lost its place on the wall.

The owner of the uniform, Mr. Zale, liberated France in his time drafted as a soldier. Fighting all the way to the end of the war at the Elbe River, Mr. Zale was a local war hero. Once returning to his civilian life, he settled down with his wife, had children, and worked for District 128 in his retirement.

The hero delivered mail between Vernon Hills High School and Libertyville High School and was deeply fond of each school, especially LHS. Before his passing away in 2009, Mr. Zale proudly gave his military uniform to LHS so that it was accessible to plenty of generations to follow him. Buried in a Wildcat windbreaker, Mr. Zale cared deeply about both the school and his career in the military.

“He cared about this place, and he cared about his service in the military, enough that he gave it to the school,” Social Studies department supervisor Mr. Shawn McCusker explained. “So we feel that it is important for us to kind of recognize the history of this place. He served, he was proud of it, we get to recognize this.”

As a result, the social studies department wants to have a spot of honor for Mr. Zale beginning next year, and they hope to expand the recognition spot to other LHS war veterans in the future.

“My thought was it would be cool to, number one, display Mr. Zale’s uniform – he’s sort of like the anchor of what the social science department is – and then from there build more of a social sciences identity,” Ms. Andrea Lara, a U.S. History teacher, said.

Other elements of the honor spot would be the already created memorial of LHS graduates who have served in war. Currently, a case hanging outside of the Main Gym’s concession stands recognizes those who served in wars through Vietnam. With hopes to expand this list to more recent wars, adding this memorial piece would join social studies recognition awards, informational plaques, and Mr. Zale’s uniform in a spot of honor outside of the social studies department office.