Join us Monday, May 28 at 11:00 a.m. as we salute our nation’s fallen during the Highland Park Memorial Day Ceremony.

Commander Greg Detlie and Local V.F.W. Post #4737 invite the public to attend this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony near the bandstand at Memorial Park, 405 Prospect Avenue. (The park is just east of the Highland Park Public Library at the intersection of Laurel, Prospect and Linden Avenues.) Music will be provided by the Highland Park High School band.

Joining me as speakers will be State Representative Karen May and Patsy Beniste, Vice President of Education and Community Programs for the Chicago Botanic Garden. The ceremony will be held rain or shine. I look forward to seing you there.

My speech follows:

Good Morning!  Thank you to the Veterans of the Foreign Wars, the Jewish War Veterans and American Legion Post 145 for the opportunity to come together this morning and honor our nation’s fallen.

I’d like to recognize my Council colleagues who have joined us this morning:  Jim Kirsch, Steve Mandel, Paul Frank, David Naftzger, Dan Kaufman and Tony Blumberg as well as our City Manager Dave Knapp.

And welcome to the families of our current military members.  I’d also like to thank the Scouts and the HPHS Band for joining us on this important occasion.

In 1915, in Ypres salient, a surgeon and Lt. Colonel in the Canadian Army named John McCrae looked around at the devastation and reflected on the horror of the past seventeen days he had spent treating wounded soldiers from many nations.  He had just buried a dear friend and former student and out of sheer sadness wrote the following:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Though written almost 100 years ago, the fragility of life, the pain of loss, the sacrifices we acknowledge on this special day are felt as sharply now as ever.  Even today, we look at the young faces in photographs in the newspaper, read the stories and contemplate the losses and the names of those who have died serving our great nation.

A word of thanks seems not nearly enough to share our heartfelt appreciation to the families left behind by these American heroes.  So while we must and do say thank you, and pause for a moment to respect those who have fallen in service to our country, I also ask that we each take a moment, and reflect on the freedoms and liberties protected by their valor, the peace we experience here at home thanks to their incredible sacrifice, and how fortunate we each are to live in the United States of America.

If your flag isn’t out yet, please go home and proudly wave the colors under which so many fought and for which so many died.  We are grateful to them and so very fortunate to be able to honor their memories.

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