"It's something in your heart": Suburbs pay tribute to veterans
Veterans Day always is an emotional time for those who served and their families, some of whom this year were able to attend ceremonies across the suburbs in person despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's something in your heart," said Brian Bushbeck, a Navy veteran from Palatine who served in the 1970s. "If you're not a veteran, you probably wouldn't know what it really means."
Bushbeck was among more than 100 people who attended a ceremony hosted by American Legion Post 690 at Community Park in Palatine, which was among a handful of communities that commemorated Veterans Day with in-person events Wednesday. Others included Arlington Heights, Glen Ellyn, Grayslake, Northbrook and Glenview.
The Palatine ceremony featured a special guest: the post's newly restored, World War II-era anti-tank gun, which was fired twice.
"This is a celebration of our success of various conflicts that we been in," said Korean War veteran Wally Degner of Palatine, who served in the Marines and attended Wednesday's event with his wife, Janet.
Veterans Day, which falls each year on Nov. 11, commemorates the World War I armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers that went effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.
Congressman Brad Schneider, an Illinois Democrat from the 10th District, planned nine stops at veterans events throughout the suburbs, including in Northbrook. He also made video appearances in virtual ceremonies.
"This is a day we remind ourselves as a nation the freedoms we enjoy, that the liberty we treasure is hard-fought, hard-earned," Schneider said. "And there are people in every generation who put on the uniform and serve our nation, protect our freedom, and we honor them today."
Grayslake Central High School hosted a Veterans Day parade through its parking lot.
"We have a strong track record of honoring veterans at our school on Veterans Day. Because of restrictions this year we had to scale it back, but I think it was a success," said social studies teacher Glen Roeck, the event planner and a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserve.
Glenview, which canceled its Memorial Day ceremony earlier this year, held a ceremony at the Veterans Memorial downtown.
"It's not so much for the public, but for the people there on the memorial, the Glenview residents who actually died in wars," said Phil Roseman, a member of Joseph M. Sesterhenn American Legion Post 166 in Glenview. "We're honoring them."
A lone bagpiper played in the background as about 25 people from American Legion Post 3 gathered by the fire station in downtown Glen Ellyn. Cars driving past honked their approval.
"It's important for the people to recognize their dedication and the sacrifices that the men and woman (soldiers) have made for our county," said Mike Formento, Post 3 commander.
More than 100 cars carrying veterans participated in a car parade through Luther Village and past the Lutheran Home in Arlington Heights. The Arlingtones barbershop chorus sang and veterans received gift bags.
Lutheran Home Marketing Director Linda Smith said the village's police and fire departments were instrumental in organizing the parade.
"Especially in the time of COVID-19 and the pandemic and all the shut downs we've been experiencing for the last eight months, we need to make sure that we honor and respect our veterans," Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said. "It's so important that we don't forget them during this difficult time where everybody is shut in."
• Staff photographers Brian Hill, Joe Lewnard, John Starks, Paul Valade and Mark Welsh contributed to this report.