How volunteers in Dundee honor veterans

What would Memorial Day be without sentiments wrapped around it?

With the flags, the parades, and veterans playing taps in cemeteries filled with fallen comrades, Americans can't help but stop and think of relatives or friends who have served in the military. Alive or dead, they come to mind with the help of the parades, flags and bugle tune.

Helping the memories come to mind cannot be done without the help of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of volunteers who plan the events.

Dundee Township alone has dozens of people who work every year to make sure Memorial Day is not just another day off from work or a date on a calendar.

They start Saturday morning with Boy Scout Troop 34 and veterans placing flags on graves in Dundee Township's cemeteries, East and West. With burial records in hand, they check and double-check which plot deserves an American flag, said Bobbie Andresen, parade organizer.

"Sometimes knowing if a grave holds a veteran is hard because not all of them will say they were a veteran," she said. "We try to get as many as possible."

The West cemetery, along Route 31, is easier because it is older and is the burial ground for Civil War veterans as well as those who fought the two world wars, and Korea and Vietnam. The East cemetery, along Route 25, is not as old. The markers of the buried hold more information.

More volunteers are also needed for Sunday's 2 p.m. parade in East and West Dundee along Route 72. They start their job in late winter by asking trustees in both villages to request permission from the Illinois Department of Transportation to close the busy highway.

The parade begins in the parking lot of Immanuel Lutheran Church in East Dundee and continues west to Grafelman Park.

"We also have people who send out invitations to various groups and veterans to walk and ride in the parade," she said. "We like to keep it to 40 entries. That's manageable. It's a nice, little small-town parade."

Other volunteers are needed to acquire cars for the older veterans to ride in and to line up the units before the parade, she said.

"Sadly, we won't have any World War II veterans in the parade because they have passed away. We will have four to five veterans in their 80s ride in the cars."

Marching bands from Dundee-Crown High School and Carpentersville Middle School will be among the units in the parade. Teachers need to volunteer to lead rehearsals weeks before the parade.

"The day of the parade we need about a dozen volunteers to make sure things go smoothly," Andresen said. "Dundee Township parade started back in the 1950s. To people watching it looks like it would be simple to put together, but there are a lot of things to consider. A lot volunteers are needed to make sure it goes as planned."

The parade is sponsored by West Dundee's VFW Post 2298. Its members work with Carpentersville's VFW Post 5915.

West Dundee Post members will continue their tradition of holding a rifle ceremony at 10 a.m. Monday on the Route 72 bridge over the Fox River. Members will also hold a ceremony at 11 a.m. at River Valley Memorial Gardens along Route 31 in West Dundee.

  The Dundee Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2298 Honor Guard performs a rifle salute at a Memorial Day event at River Valley Memorial Gardens on Route 31 in West Dundee. John Starks/, 2017
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