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updated: 11/10/2017 4:09 PM

Veterans in Lake County tell stories of war

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  • A Marine cuts a birthday cake Friday in honor of Veterans Day at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan.

    A Marine cuts a birthday cake Friday in honor of Veterans Day at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan.


More than 40 veterans converged Friday to tell their stories of the time they spent in hostile territories around the world.

More than 200 people from the Lake County legal community observed Veterans Day by interviewing 41 veterans during the sixth annual Lake County Veterans History Project at the Lake County courthouse in Waukegan Friday.

Attorneys from the state's attorney and public defender's offices and private attorneys questioned veterans regarding the time they spent in service.

Their personal accounts of what happened overseas were recorded and transcribed by volunteer court reporters from the 19th Judicial Circuit. The transcripts will be preserved and shipped to the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Veterans from all branches of service were involved in the project Friday. Interviewees included servicemen and women from the U.S. Air Force, Marines, Army and Navy and deployed in World War II, Vietnam War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Cold War, Korean War, the Beirut barracks bombing, and Operation Enduring Freedom.

Among them were U.S. Army Major Maria Burger, of New Jersey, a West Point graduate who was deployed in Uzbekistan in 2003 before being shipped over to Afghanistan until 2004.

"West Point can be the best place in the world for you, or the worst place in the world for you," she told Lake County Judge Christopher Stride during her interview. "For me, though, it was great."

She told tales of being a jump master who was the first out of the helicopter during her deployment in Uzbekistan overseas.

"They taught us leaders lead from the front," she said. "I felt like I had to be at my best every day."

This is the sixth time veterans were called in to take part in the project.

"It's a great honor to be here with all of the veterans and their families today," said Guest of Honor A. Robert Abboud, a veteran of the U.S. Marines who served during the Korean War. "I am proud to be a former Marine officer."

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