Children from the after-school program at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center pay homage to veterans from previous generations.                     RoundTable photo

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The clear but windy morning of Nov. 11 brought about 150 people to Veterans Memorial Plaza in Fountain Square for Veterans Day services.  Although there was no stated theme for the morning, many speakers referred to the need for better services for living veterans.

 Illinois Seventh District American Legion Past Commander Greg Lisinski shepherded participants through the brief but moving ceremony. Chaplain Karl Kuhn of American Legion Post 42 noted many veterans “carry physical and mental wounds from their days of services.”

“This is a great country,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “It has always been a great country. We have to ensure that we serve veterans as well as they have served us” by providing support not only through the Veterans Administration but also through other services.  She added that she is “so proud that here in Evanston we always have a celebration of Veterans Day.”

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said to use this day “to remember why we love this country.” She read Emma Lazarus’s poem “The New Colossus,” written about the Statue of Liberty.

Commander Brian Beatty of Technical Sergeant Snell VFW Post 42 said of Veterans Day and Memorial Day, “These two days make us stop and remember – one day for death, another for life, the Yin and the Yang.” He spoke of how some veterans are “cast aside,” living on the streets, and not receiving the services they need. He asked for donations of warm winter clothing and coats for the “hundreds of homeless veterans.”

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, Commander Hal Shanafield of VietNow, North Suburban Chapter, Commander James Brusek of American Legion Post 42, and M. Barry Siegel also spoke. 

At 11 a.m. sharp, everyone faced east for a moment of silence. Quinn Hartman blew “Taps” on his bugle. Cadets from Admiral Rickover Naval Academy High School gave a 21-gun salute. After the laying of wreaths at the flagpole, everyone sang “God Bless America,” and the crowd separated into small groups to talk and individuals to return to their day.