The 45-minute Veterans Day service in Evanston began at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 11, timed to coincide with the armistice, signed in France and announced to much of the world on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11 minutes after the 11th hour in 1918. The armistice was meant to be the treaty to end World War I, also called the Great War and the War to End All Wars.
The service at Fountain Square evoked the casualties of that war and all wars of the United States and the sacrifices of the men and women of the armed services of this country. It also was a call to veterans to join the fold of one of the veterans’ organizations and to the country to provide adequate services and supports for veterans.
“No veterans should be left out in the cold,” said Andrew Goczkowski, reading a statement from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “Veterans and their families have made great sacrifices to serve their country and all of us. We acknowledge and appreciate them today and every day of the year. In order to thank and care for our veterans, we must ensure that we provide the funding necessary to meet their needs and ensure that they can fully participate in their communities through job opportunities. That means providing adequate and sufficient funding for the Veterans Administration, as well as other programs that veterans rely on, like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It also means caring for the specific needs of women veterans and boldly taking on the tragic crises of veteran suicide, opioid abuse and homelessness. Even one veteran’s life lost to suicide or overdose is one too many.”
The recurring question in the speech of Commander Brian Beatty of Technical Sergeant William B. Snell VFW Post 7186 was “How can we grow” as a veteran group. He recalled those wounded in service and the many suicides of veterans who have returned from combat. He said many who have served in the armed forces may not realize they are veterans and asked those who have served contact one of the veterans’ organizations.
Commander James Brusek of Evanston American Legion Post 42 said the men and women of the armed services have “always been standing in the gap to preserve our freedom.” He spoke of Helen Wood, one of Evanston’s first casualties in World War I. A nurse by profession, she was on her way to Europe when a gun used in a training exercise exploded, killing her and another nurse even before they made it to the front.
Commander Hal Shanafield of Viet Now, North Suburban Chapter, said, “When President [Dwight] Eisenhower changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, he realized that many had died in World War II, and he understood that there will always be veterans.” Thanksgiving Day, he said, “is the day to be thankful for the things we have; Veterans Day is the day to give thanks to the people who fought for the things we have.”
Mayor Stephen Hagerty proclaimed Nov. 11, 2018 Bells of Peace Day in Evanston. Sam Chivas of Boy Scout Troop 912 rang a bell 21 times in remembrance of the men and women – particularly those from Evanston – who died in service to their country. Bells from First United Methodist Church and Second Baptist Church rang simultaneously or nearly so, as did bells from many churches across the country. A 21-gun salute from Rickover Naval Academy High School and taps played by Sam Tannen followed. American Legion Post 43 Chaplain Cristine Chevlin made the closing invocation and the audience of several dozen who braved the cold and wind of this November day sang “God Bless America.”