For many local veterans, the day started off at District 203’s Administration Building, where faculty members showed their appreciation to veterans and their families with a breakfast and some words of welcome.
“Please don’t ever think that there’s a day that goes by where we don’t appreciate and thank you for everything you do in service – what you did in the past, what you do today and what you do moving forward. You’re an important part of who we are as a school district and I am so grateful, so thank you for everything,” said District 203’s Superintendent Dan Bridges.
The veterans then made their way to schools, where they were honored by students, getting a chance to receive awards and share their message.
“It’s just one small way that we can honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live free, that we can associate with who we want, that we can worship who or what we please, that we can freely assemble, that we can read a free press and that we can join in on public discourse,” said Mark Anderson, Major General United States Air Force.
Dozens of students stood in honor of their family members who serve, recognizing the impact these soldiers make. For one Waubonsie Valley High School Senior, that meant following family traditions, by becoming a soldier himself, and enlisting in the United States Marine Corp.
“These people give up their lives, they give up every day life for us, for our freedom, the least we can do is show them that we appreciate them every day,” said Briegs Pflibsen, senior at Waubonsie Valley High School.
And students weren’t the only ones showing their gratitude. The community gathered to celebrate our nation’s heroes at the 25th Anniversary of Veterans Park. The opening moment of silence was soon broken by the sounds of the Star Spangled Banner, along with the service anthems for each branch of the service. Mayor A. George Pradel, a former Marine himself, remembered the many gifts veterans have given.
“These veterans have been in service because they want us to live in a free country and so far it’s been a free country because of them,” said Mayor Pradel.
“November 11 marks the official day that our country recognizes veterans, but I would say that everyday is veterans day, everyday we should keep in our hearts for those who have served and those who are serving,” said Bob Bronson, Commander of Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873.
Activities continued at Metea Valley High School where the Marching Mustangs joined forces with the Pete Ellman Big Band and The Legacy Girls for a special concert serving as a tribute to our veterans.
“It’s great to be a part of a life of service that you can reach out and do things for other students as an educator and do things that hopefully raise the awareness and the appreciation of our veterans,” said Major Bryan Miller, Air National Guard Band of the Midwest.
The day ended at the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park where 2,000 luminary candles in bags were lit as a solemn tribute to those who died in combat.
“Each bag signifies four casualties in the history of the First Infantry Division,” said Gayln Piper, Director of Publications for the First Division Museum.
Just one day hardly seemed big enough to show the appreciation for the bravery and sacrifice these veterans have given us.
“You get with a bunch of guys you may never see them again so you honor them,” said Martin Fuentes, Army Veteran.
“It was a privilege to serve our country and it’s an honor to be here and serving our community,” said Rebecca Hurst, teacher at Kennedy Jr. High School.
“The day we forget about veterans and what they did for our country to guarantee our freedom, is the day we put those freedoms at jeopardy,” said Mark Anderson, Major General United States Air Force.
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