Cary, IL. - The rainy weather didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd that gathered at Cary Country Club on Sunday to welcome home a group of WWII veterans from their Honor Flight. People holding balloons, bouquets of flowers, American flags and homemade signs huddled together under colorful umbrellas and rain ponchos at the head of the driveway, waiting for the buses carrying the veterans.
Members of the Veterans Network Committee and some of the veterans' family members unfurled a large banner welcoming the honored guests, as others stood at attention holding large American flags. Finally, the crowd erupted into cheers as the motorcade, led by the Warriors Watch Riders on their motorcycles pulled into the flag-lined drive. As each veteran was helped from the bus, they were met with cheers and applause. Even the weather seemed to cooperate, as the rain that had been steadily falling slowed to barely a drizzle just long enough for all the veterans to exit the buses and make it inside the country club.
Once inside, the procession continued, with the returning WWII veterans seated at a place of honor, directly in front of the orchestra. As the applause died down and everyone took their seats, Veterans Network Committee Director Mike Feathers kicked off the official festivities with a warm welcome to the veterans, after which he invited Mayor Mark Kownick of Cary to speak.
Mayor Kownick greeted the veterans, thanking them for their sacrifice and service. He then thanked all those who came out to show their support for these brave men and women, pointing out that it's this very sort of hometown encouragement that makes the town of Cary such a great place. He also thanked the VNC for their dedication to the members of the armed forces from this community.
R.J. Abrams, president of Warriors Watch Riders, also gave a heartfelt speech in honor of the veterans. He pointed out that as a motorcycle enthusiast, he knew what freedom felt like, and spoke of the sacrifice these men and women made for all of us to experience freedom. He showed a special bead chain and honor coin that their club was presenting to every veteran, and explained the meaning behind each colored bead.
Finally, VNC President Randy Granath said a few words of thanks to the tireless group of volunteers who escorted these veterans on their honor flight as volunteers handed out gift bags to the returning veterans. Granath also thanked the Cary Country Club for their hospitality and commitment to veterans. As the speeches concluded, almost everyone present lined up to shake the hands of every returning veteran. Then, as the orchestra struck up a number of big band favorites, people took to the dance floor or clustered in family groups, hugging, laughing and celebrating the joyous homecoming.
If you would like to make a donation to the Veterans Network Committee of Northern Illinois, or find out other ways you can help, please contact: Randy Granath, Veterans Network Committee, at RGranath47@aol.com