“Memorial Day is the day we come together to commemorate, to remember, all those who have fallen in service to this nation,” said Commander Hal Shanafield of VietNow Post, North Suburban Chapter, at the first Memorial Day ceremony in the City’s newly renovated Veterans Plaza and Fountain Square.

“It isn’t easy to remember all of the names of the people we have known who have made the ultimate sacrifice. That’s one of the reasons the names are inscribed on memorials, monuments and walls. We have to remind people that these were living human beings who, although they didn’t wish to, gave their lives in service to this country in wartime,” said Commander Shanafield in his reflections.

The 30-minute ceremony coincided with an elusive slice of summer weather. Blue skies and sunshine greeted Evanston residents and visitors who gathered on Monday at 10:30am at Fountain Square, located at Sherman Avenue and Davis Street, for one of America’s most solemn holidays. Air Force veteran and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin thanked the American Legion Post 42, Tech Sgt. William B. Snell VFW Post 7186 and the City of Evanston “for continuing to organize this thoughtful and beautiful tribute to our fallen heroes.”

In remarks read by Auxiliary VFW Snell Post President Gerri Sizemore, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9) wrote, “We must never forget those who have died or were wounded, who are missing in action, who are prisoners of war, those who are still overseas, and our veterans and military families at home.”

Commander James Brusek of American Legion Post 42 noted that Memorial Day is always observed on the last Monday in May to honor veterans who are no longer living. “It is customary to fly the flag at half-staff until noon to commemorate those who have died, and then raise it to full staff to honor living veterans,” said Commander Brusek.

Snell VFW Post 7186 Commander Charles Spivey said, “Today we honor soldiers who have given their lives and made the ultimate sacrifice for our values and or way of life.”

Evanston American Legion Post 42 served refreshments at 103 Central Street immediately following the ceremony. The Annual Patriotic Breakfast, hosted by Tech Sgt. William B. Snell Post 7186, was held on April 28 at the Hilton Garden Inn, 1818 Maple Avenue in Evanston.

Heidi Randhava

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.