On a beautiful late fall day, about 150 people gathered at Fountain Square in downtown Evanston on Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, to honor the contribution of United States military veterans to the community. With temperatures in the 60s and a bright sun shining, veterans and politicians shared the podium to offer reflections, show appreciation and give thanks for service and to talk about the need for adequate support for veterans and current legislative efforts to address such need.

Greg Lisinski, Commander, 7th District of the Illinois American Legion, served as the master of ceremonies for the event. He was joined at the podium by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, State Representative Robyn Gabel, County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, and former Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton. After the politicians had spoken, representative of a number of veterans’ groups spoke to the crowd.

In keeping with tradition, a 21-gun salute was fired at precisely 11:11 a.m., followed by a moment of silence. A recreation of the ceremonial flag folding and accompanying inspirational reading preceded the salute. When a veteran is laid to rest, the flag-folding ceremony is often a part of the service.

Rep. Schakowsky highlighted recent legislation passed to help veterans. The Veterans Benefit Act, she said, “improves and modernizes a range of benefits for veterans and families. …” A new health services law supports caregivers of veterans, she added, “and, critically, this Congress has approved advance appropriations for veterans’ health care.”

“There is still a great deal more to be done,” said Ms. Schakowsky. She called for greater access to the new GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Claims should not take long to process, she said. Further, today’s economy makes the transition to civilian life more complicated, she said. “[W]e recommit ourselves to meeting the needs of all our nation’s veterans,” she concluded.