Memorial Day in Libertyville may come with virtual message
It may not be at a podium downtown in Cook Park, but whatever the circumstance, Libertyville resident and World War II veteran Don Carter is ready to deliver a speech on Memorial Day.
"I'm all prepared," said the 95-year-old Army vet, who routinely shares his 11 months of combat experience at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and other sites with schoolchildren and other groups.
Memorial Day in Libertyville for many years has included a short parade down Main Street to the park where hundreds gather for a solemn and memorable tribute to those who served, but coronavirus concerns will likely result canceling or changing in this year's event.
Wisconsin has extended its stay-at-home order through May 26, and Mayor Terry Weppler expects that may happen in Illinois as well.
"Based on that, I think it's highly unlikely we'll be able to do it," he said of the traditional program and gathering. "Obviously, there wouldn't be a parade."
As is standard every year, the village board this week approved a resolution to allow for the parade and the use of the village-owned park for the event. The 40-minute program was to have included a welcome address by Weppler, messages from representatives of the American Legion and VFW, selections by the Libertyville High School Band, prayers, a rifle salute by a color guard and more.
"It's very likely it will end up being virtual as opposed to something people can come to," Weppler said.
For years, Carter has emceed and organized the program, but for the first time he was tabbed by Weppler to be the featured speaker. He's seen a lot but nothing like an unseen enemy that is upending Memorial Day.
"I wouldn't have believed it if you told me two months ago," Carter said.
Other activities will continue but likely will be modified.
After past programs, veterans and loved ones walked the few blocks from Cook Park to a granite monument in Lakeside Cemetery inscribed with the names of Libertyville Township residents who died serving in the armed forces.
Taps are played and the names are read in a final tribute.
On the Saturday before Memorial Day, hundreds of flags are placed on veterans' graves by American Legion members assisted by Scouts.
However, Scouts are in a "no gathering" time until May 17, and if it's extended, cemetery association board members will help while following social distancing rules, said board member Judy Zemeske.
"They're going to put the flags on the graves. We'll put the flags by the memorial," said Bruce Matsunaga, commander of American Legion Post 329. Nearly 600 veterans are buried at Lakeside. He'll be reading the names on Memorial Day.
The flags of all five branches of the service also will be displayed in front of the American Legion hall, 715 N. Milwaukee Ave.