By Nancy Thorner –
Lake Bluff American Legion Post 510 honored all veterans on Wednesday, November 11 at the Gazebo on the Village Green in downtown Lake Bluff in Lake County, IL with a most fitting and memorable Veterans Day celebration.
The remarks by Guest Speaker Colonel Donovan Phillips, US Army and a 1998 West Point graduate, addressed the tenor of the present time when freedom is under assault. After praising the performance of those who had proceeded him in the program, Colonel Donovan reminded those gathered of the Armistice signed in 1918. It was concluded at the time that WWI was the war to end all wars. But this was not to be so in the 97 years that followed Armistice Day. Although St Augustine wrote that “the purpose of all war, is peace”, service members were willing to forego peace for a higher calling of liberty and freedom.
Colonel Donovan likewise referred to President John F. Kennedy’s 1st Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961 at which Kennedy intoned:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Continuing, Colonel Phillips maintained that it isn’t enough for veterans do their best; they must do whatever is necessary, even if it means giving of their lives to keep the light of freedom from being extinguished. It’s not a foregone conclusion that the light of freedom, which so far has been passed from one generation to another, will remain strong. The responsibility of the present generation is to insure that the light of freedom is not snuffed out.
Colonel Phillips enumerated four debts that we owe our veterans:
- Gratitude: It was deplorable how veterans were treated when returning home from Viet Nam war; however, over the years our nation has learned to understand the difference between policy disagreement and the need to honor those who had found it their duty to follow policy. We owe a special thanks to Viet Nam veterans.
- Honor: Each serviceman deserves to be honored for their sacrifice and selfless service as they leave behind family and loved ones to serve a cause greater than themselves.
- Follow example of veterans: Serve your community by volunteering at a place of worship or at a school. Veterans Hospital also need volunteers.
- Listen: Remember that all veterans have families. 8,301 of our fallen troops from WW II (Battle of the Bulge) lay to rest at the Netherlands American Cemetery. Every single grave site has been adopted by a family in Holland to express their gratitude for those who died fighting for their freedom. There is a waiting list to adopt grave sites. Host families goes far beyond just adopting the grave of the individual.
As to how to give meaning to the sacrifices of the fallen, Colonel Phillips had this to say: “It is by how we live our lives. Every citizen is a caretaker, a steward of what is expressed in our Declaration of Independence, that among our rights are ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’” In conclusion, Phillips enjoined God to continue to bless this nation.
Post Commander David Cimarrusti, when commenting on how there were no Lake County war casualties in 2015, with a quiver in his voice Cimarrusti related how twelve American Legion Post 510 members had died in the past twelve months.
At the conclusion of Lake Bluff’s very meaningful Veterans Day program, an announcement was made about the American History Project, a project of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress, which collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Stories of Lake Bluff Post 510 members will be heard and included in the Library of Congress archives.