The first name on the wall is Alfred R.S. Bailey, from the Civil War.

The last is Matthew Charles Hayes Freeman, from Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan/War on Terror).

In between Bailey and Freeman, on the Military Memorial Wall at Fountain Square, are the names of hundreds of other Evanstonians who, in the words at the top of the wall, “Gave their lives in war that we may live in peace.”

On Monday, a large crowd gathered at the Square for the annual Memorial Day Observance, sponsored by American Legion Post 42, and Tech Sgt. William B. Snell Post 7186, Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“We do not forget,” said Legion Cmdr. Will Candelario, “whether it was an hour ago or a century ago.”

John Fuller will never forget what happened in 1966. That’s when uniformed soldiers knocked at the Fuller’s door in Evanston, with the tragic news that John’s oldest brother James had been killed in action in Vietnam.

“I remember when they came to tell my parents,” Fuller said. That was an horrific experience.”

James Fuller’s name is among those on the memorial wall at Fountain Square.

John Fuller was only eight years old when James was killed, so he didn’t really get to know his older sibling.

But, John said, “anyone who talked about my brother always said what a great person and great friend he was.”

James Fuller had enlisted in the army right after graduation from Evanston Township High School in 1965, and died not long after arriving in Vietnam.

In remarks to the crowd, Mayor Daniel Biss said that those who are not veterans, the vast majority these days, “owe a special responsibility to remember and tell the stories of those who did not come home.”

VFW Cmdr. Brian Beatty said “what we fear is that no one will remember, or years from now, no one will care.”

VFW Cmdr. Brian Beatty places memorial wreath at Fountain Square ceremony,

“Take time out today,” Beatty added, “to visit those that this day is set aside for.”

Timothy Allen and his wife Danielle took the time to bring their three young children to the Square.

Timothy was a military police officer from 2001-2008.

Memorial Day is “very important for us, as a time of remembrance.”

“To us, it’s a day on, rather than a day off.”

Danielle added that for six-year-old Isabella, five-year-old-Sam, and one-year-old Silas, going to the observance is a start for the youngsters to “understand why they have a day off from school.”

And for John Fuller and his wife Nancy, it’s also a day to do something else besides attending the Fountain Square ceremony.

“Every year on this day,” said Nancy, “we are at the cemetery.”

“It’s amazing to see all of the flags,” added John.

One of those flags is for his brother.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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