The riflemen from Rickover Naval Academy High School practiced their gun salutes toward the clear blue sky over Lake Michigan as people gathered at Patriot’s Park for Memorial Day services.
Greg Lisinski of American Legion Post 42 thanked the City of Evanston for use of the park while Fountain Square is being rebuilt with a new veterans’ memorial.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said, “On this day in this beautiful setting, we remember those who went to fight for us – and their families. … There aren’t many jobs in the country that, when you sign up, you know it could cost you your life.”
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said in this era of continually breaking news, “there is little time for reflection. … Today we honor those who have fallen. Since 9/11, 2,216 men and women in the armed services have died... Thank you for coming today to honor the past and respect the future.”
Standing in for Mayor Stephen Hagerty, who was out of town, retired Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said, “This ceremony means a great deal to me and to the City of Evanston. … Veterans are extremely important to all of us. Thank you for being here. Know you all are an important part of the Evanston community because you came here.”
Commander James Brusek of Post 42 gave a history of Decoration Day, the Civil War holiday that eventually became Memorial Day. “Veterans and their families and friends will not let this day go unnoticed. God bless our departed comrades.”
Commander Brian Beaty of Technical Sergeant William Snell Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7186 said, “We joined the U.S. military for different reasons – some, because of the nation’s call to arms.”
Commander Hal Shanafield of Viet Now asked everyone to read and say aloud at least one name from the flagpole at the park there and on the memorial wall once Fountain Square has been rebuilt, as a way to keep the veterans alive, because, “I’ve heard it said that a person dies twice – once at the last breath and again when his or her name is spoken for the last time.”
Traditions continued on this Memorial Day: the laying of wreaths by veterans groups and auxiliaries, the 21-gun salute, the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America” Henry Revis Jr. and the “Bo Price” call to recognize veterans of any war or conflict. The Evanston Police Department’s color guard retired the colors, as they had presented them. Evanston High School student Kelly Thomas performed “Taps,” the first time a young woman had done so. The day’s event ended with everyone singing “God Bless America.”