(Bartlett, IL)-With an assist from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), and Legendary National Anthem Singer Wayne Messmer, The Bartlett Volunteer Fire Association honored dozens of veterans at their annual Memorial Day Dinner on May 30, 2014. Following Messmer's stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, Bartlett Mayor Kevin Wallace introduced Rep. Duckworth, who provided the keynote address. " I just want to thank all of you for your contributions to the freedoms we enjoy in this country," she stated. "Without your dedication the things we enjoy today would not be possible."
Following Rep. Duckworth's remarks, the invocation was provided by Fire Association Member Jim Dexter, E4, Army National Guard, and a Bronze Star Recipient. After the invocation, guests were invited to join in as Wayne and Kathleen Messmer performed God Bless America. Hanover Township Supervisor Brian McGuire and Fire Association President Mike Dexter then presented Rep. Duckworth with a framed photomontage commemorating her earlier visit to the Bartlett Veterans Memorial.
After dinner, which was donated by Morettii's, President Dexter recognized veterans in attendance. "We really want you to know how much we appreciate your service to our country and to our community," he stated. "We are very pleased you were able to join us tonight as we pay our respect to you and those who have gone before you."
The Bartlett Volunteer Fire Association is a community service organization dedicated to carry on the legacy of service that was started 116 years ago by a group of 26 men on December 22, 1897. While the group has traded in its firefighting equipment and no longer plays a role in providing fire suppression services, it is a dedicated group of individuals who raise money to help the community, support the operation of a community building and give grants to support the volunteer fire service at large. Today the members of the organization who have stopped fighting fires, but not stopped serving the community or the volunteer fire service at large keep the spirit of community service that burned in those 26 men alive.
Elected to Congress in 2012, Rep. Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. She was one of the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom until an RPG hit her helicopter on November 12, 2004. Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in the explosion and was awarded the Purple Heart for her combat injuries.