Parade, prayers and flag raising in Naperville
Naperville will honor those who died serving their country with a variety of observances Monday, culminating with its Memorial Day parade.
The observance begins with volunteers placing American flags on the graves of the fallen. Then, at 7:45 a.m., there will be a brief memorial service outside city hall.
That service includes a flag raising at the city's Sept. 11/Cmdr. Dan Shanower Memorial along the Riverwalk behind city hall. Naval Cmdr. Shanower, a Naperville native, died during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 while on duty at the Pentagon.
Tom Parker, former commander of Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873, said veterans also will travel to locations throughout the city to conduct ceremonies and lay wreaths at the graves of the fallen. Ceremonies include prayers, the playing of taps and gun salutes.
There will be an 8:15 a.m. service at Veterans Park, 303 E. Gartner Road, and an 8:35 a.m. service at Burlington Square, 101 North Ave., near the train station. Veterans also will lead a 9 a.m. ceremony at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery, 911 North Ave., and a 9:45 a.m. service at Naperville Cemetery, 705 S. Washington St.
The parade will step off at 10:30 a.m. from Jackson Avenue and West Street in downtown and pause at the dandelion fountain at Jackson Avenue and Webster Street, in front of Nichols Library. The 63-unit parade will continue east on Jackson to Washington Street, then go north on Washington to Benton Street and then east to Court Place, ending at the Ss. Peter and Paul Church parking lot.
This year's parade marshal is Doug Deetjen, a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam. The Officer of the Day is Jim Oftedal, an Army veteran who also served in Vietnam.
The parade will include the Naperville Municipal Band, Scout troops, middle school and high school bands and other floats and entries. Because the occasion is a somber one, throwing candy and distributing items along the route is prohibited.
"Memorial Day is more of an observance where we are taking time to remember those who have served in the military and have since passed. Banners will be carried listing names of Naperville residents who served in the military going back to the Blackhawk War," Parker said.
The parade has a long tradition in Naperville.
"The best any of us can tell, the first Naperville Memorial Day parade was in 1918. In 1928, it started being a consistent part of the Memorial Day activities in Naperville," he said. "If I've done my math correctly, that should mean this will be the 91st year in a row that we've had one."
Parker said the Judd Kendall VFW's membership includes veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and even World War II.
Now retired, Parker served in the armed forces for 21 years, including a stint in Iraq.
"I was there from 2003 to 2004. I was a company commander and I was a helicopter pilot," he said. "I've been a member of the VFW for at least 10 years. We are very active in the community in helping veterans, promoting veterans' causes."
Parker said the VFW sponsors school programs and scholarships, as does American Legion Post 43.
"Regan Macwan will be our guest speaker at the ceremony following the parade. Regan is from Naperville and is a home-schooled high school student. He was sponsored by Naperville's American Legion Post 43 in the American Legion's state oratorical contest, where he placed second overall," Parker said.
The post-parade ceremony will be in Central Park at the band shell.
Naperville Memorial Day ParadeWhen: 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 27)
Where: Downtown Naperville