Honoring Those Who Serve

Hundreds of local residents honored their military men and women at Naperville’s Annual Veterans Day ceremony.

The Naperville Municipal Band played the marches of each military branch before a moment of silence, honoring the men and women of the military.

Staff Sargent, Shane Wilkenson is a recruiter stationed in Naperville.
“When we were deployed, people would send us tapes like this and just watching it and seeing everybody back home gave you the motivation to get you through no matter how rough it was,” he said.

The ceremony was held next to the Healing Field of Honor. A sea of 2,012 American flags.

“This is a truly amazing site, it makes me proud to be an American and proud to have served in the military,” said Army Veteran, Gene Pawlick.

Lisa Kourtides from Naperville was emotional at the event. “Just to see this, it moves us, and I can’t even come up with the words.”

This is the second time volunteers have placed the flags on Rotary Hill for Veterans Day. Which was an effort sponsored by many local organizations including Operation Support Our Troops, who is matching the funds made through the purchase and dedication of the flags by family members honoring their loved ones in the military.

“We tagged a flag for my father who died in World War II,” said Becky Torossian of Woodridge.

Karla Lydon of Naperville brought her two grandchildren to Rotary Hill for the ceremony. “My son and daughter in law are both in the air force, so I want to show our thanks to all of them.”

All proceeds from flag sales will benefit Dr. Jim Kelly, the keynote speaker for the event. Dr. Kelly is leading the research for treatment of medical issues that affect many veterans like post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. “We’ve got a lot to learn, to prevent these problems, is to end the suffering, the distress, and to show our honor by our actions,” Kelly said.

“We have so many of our troops, not just the active ones, that have served but those that have not seen combat, and it affects them as well so it’s very important,” stressed Karla Lydon.

United States Army Veteran, Vern Wagill, was surprised by the turn out. “Naperville has always been a very supportive town of veterans. It’s always very touching to see how much people appreciate the military. You don’t see that very often.”

Ceremony officials hope to bring back the Healing Field of Honor in three years.

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