By Dermot Connolly
Cold temperatures and a few inches of snow were no hindrance for the residents, veterans and village officials who attended the Palos Park Veterans Day Remembrance Ceremony at the village Recreation Center at noon on Monday.
“The weather reminds me of the Battle of the Bulge. It was cold and snowing around then, too,” said World War II veteran Rich Olund, 95, of Palos Park. He did not serve in the battle but was stationed elsewhere in Belgium when the famous battle raged in the Ardennes region straddling Belgium, France and Luxembourg from mid-December 1944 to January 1945.
“I suppose I am—the last of the Mohicans,” said Olund, when it was pointed out that he was likely the only World War II veteran at the event, which began with an invocation by Palos Park Community Church Pastor Steve Sherill.
This was the second remembrance event he was at on Monday, having started his day before 9 a.m. with other veterans who regularly meet at the McDonald’s at 11050 Southwest Highway.
Palos Heights resident Kathy Lovitt hosted a ceremony there, which included a color guard provided by Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991 in Worth, the Pledge of Allegiance, and Marjie Coleman of Palos Heights leading the group in “America the Beautiful.”
At the Palos Park event, which included a hot lunch afterward, members of the Orland Palos VFW Post 2604 provided the color guard, which began the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance, also.
Pastor Sherrill asked those in attendance to give thanks for all the veterans who returned from war, and “help them to heal physically and mentally. We pray for those still hurting for wartime wounds and those men and women who are dealing with the horrors of war that we can’t even imagine. Help us to share the peace that they have fought so hard to maintain.”
“We treasure our precious freedom, which is only possible due to the generations of brave Americans who gave their lives for it,” said Mayor John Mahoney during his remarks. “And those who returned continue to serve our country. They are your youth coaches, your Lions Club volunteers, your church leaders. They show through their continued service, that with freedom comes duty and responsibility. Let their bravery and sacrifice and services inspire your daily lives.”
Palos Park Commissioner Nicole Milovich-Walters recalled the history of Veterans Day, noting that it was at 11 a.m. Nov. 11. 1918, that World War I ended with the signing of the Armistice by German officials.
“We come here to honor those veterans who placed their lives on the line for our freedom through all the years. They were ordinary people before they heard the call of duty. They did not do it for money, or even for the honor we bestow on them today. They fought to protect our country. Let us also salute those who are continuing to protect our freedom. Let’s continue to honor the veterans, not just today but every day, by living in the freedom that they fought to protect and continuing to give back to help those in need.”
Vocalist Tom Cameron then led the audience in the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” before the VFW members concluded the ceremony with the playing of “Taps.”