We were privileged to honor our many veterans with a well-attended ceremony at the Highland Park Public Library on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2013.
Thank you to our veterans, American Legion Post 145, VFW Post 4737, Jewish War Veterans Post #29, our speakers, the HPHS Band and Doc Hile, our City staff, the Library and the many residents who joined us.
In particular, we were able to honor Nathan U. Firestone, a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran from World War II, as a “Hero Among Us.” Mr. Firestone served from March 1942 thru December 1945 with the 451st Heavy Bomb Squadron.
He attained the rank of First Lieutenant as lead navigator on B-24 Liberator bombers. He was part of a crew that flew 27 successful missions over Europe. On his 28th mission, his plane was shot down over Vienna, Austria, and he parachuted safely. After meeting up with the gunner from his plane, they walked the Austrian Alps for nine days before they were captured after being turned in by civilians. He spent the next six months in a German prison camp from which he escaped and then met up with the American 69th Division some days later. For service to his country, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Air Medal with two Oak Clusters and three Presidential Citations. In 2002, Mr. Firestone published an account of his war experiences in a book titled, “Extra Joker” under his pen name, Nicky U. Fox.
My speech follows:
A poem by Charles Michael Province
It is the Soldier…..
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to (speak out).
Good morning and welcome to our Veterans Day ceremony! It is an honor and a privilege to be able to salute the incredible men and women of service to this great nation of ours. Thank you for joining us today and for your flexibility in moving locations. And thank you to the Highland Park Library for making it possible. The weather simply is not cooperating.
We have a wonderful morning planned with music from our high school band, and special participation by members of our three veterans organizations: American Legion Highland Park Post 145, Veterans of the Foreign Wars Post 4737 and the Jewish War Veterans Post 29. Our distinguished guest speakers today are Congressman Brad Schneider, State Sen. Julie Morrison, State Rep. Scott Drury, Lt. Colonel John Novak, Commander of the 16th Psychological Operations Battalion from Ft. Sheridan and Captain William Bulis, Commanding Officer of Naval Station Great Lakes. Welcome all and thank you for joining us!
Additionally, during today’s ceremony, we will be highlighting Nathan Firestone, a local Hero Among Us, but today we are, of course, celebrating all of the veterans among us.
Special thank you to my Council colleagues for joining us: Tony Blumberg, Dan Kaufman, Paul Frank, David Naftzger, Alyssa Knobel and Kim Stone as well as our City Manager Dave Knapp, our Deputy City Manager Ghida Neukirch, our military liaison William Schur, former Mayors Dan Pierce and Ray Geraci. Thank you also to Cub Scout Pack 34 and Boy Scout Troop 324 for their assistance today.
I now invite Congressman Brad Schneider to the podium.