Umbrellas hovered over Fountain Square on Nov. 11. as a sparse but hardy crowd attended this year’s Veterans’ Day observances. In the cold rain that foreshadowed the first snow of the season that afternoon, the weather seemed to add solemnity to the event.
Veterans of World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Era, Desert Storm, the Gulf War and the military excursions into Iraq and Afghanistan attended the ceremony, and politicians and veterans’ group leaders recognized the service of men and women in the military.
Students of Rickover Naval Academy High School presented colors and the rifle salute. The youngest participants were girls of Brownie Troop 41210, who presented colors, and children from Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, who read poetry.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky said, “Rain or shine, we’re here today … to celebrate the day of gratitude for those who served their country and who deserve to get from us the kind of honor they gave to us.” She mentioned the challenges veterans face when they return home, including the backlog of applications for disability, the shortage of housing and the “unseen wounds of war,” such as the 18 veterans who commit suicide every day.
Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, himself a veteran, said that in the 68 years since the end of World War II, there has been an almost continual need – all but 24 years – for troops to serve actively abroad.
Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl thanked the veterans of all wars “on behalf of the City of Evanston.” She said usually when she talks of Evanston, she emphasizes its diversity, “but Veterans’ Day in Evanston makes me realize the ways we are alike … honoring the 22 million shoulders on which we stand. … If we do not have that common faith, respect for duty and willingness to sacrifice, we will have lost our way.”
Veterans groups and auxiliaries laid wreaths at the flagpole dedicated when General Douglas MacArthur visited Evanston in 1954. With “Taps” played by Evan Foley of Boy Scout Troop 3, the services ended, and the crowd, umbrellas hoisted, dispersed into the remains of the day.