Evanston veterans reflected on their time serving their country and the significance of that service at Saturday’s annual ceremony in Fountain Square.
Gregory Lisinski, who served in Vietnam from 1974-76, said that “it’s important to remember the role of veterans” in maintaining freedom for their fellow countrymen.
Lisinski represents what could now be considered the senior generation of veterans, since there are very few survivors of the Second World War left, and so many of those who served in the Korean War have died in recent years.
Some veterans, such as Gil Rivera, another Vietnam veteran, feel they were lucky to come back from the wars they fought, and that they owe some remembrance to those who were not as fortunate. “I figure the least I could do once or twice a year is honor their memory,” he said.
The only woman in uniform present was Christine Candelario, who is chaplain of Evanston American Legion Post 42, which was instrumental in organizing this year’s ceremony. She served as a nurse at the 801st Combat Support Hospital for eleven years, and now volunteers at Post 42.
She sometimes is the lone woman at Post 42’s functions and thinks more women should become involved in the organization.
“It’s important we have women in the local post,” she said. She listed the many services the post offers to veterans and the larger community, such as fundraisers to provide assistance for homeless veterans.
There were also local dignitaries on hand to offer their thoughts on how others’ service in the armed forces has shaped their lives.
Cook County Commissioner Josina Morita said that serving in the military gave her family members “a place of belonging in this country…it helped give them opportunities when they came back to build the family that is my family.”
Morita spoke of her ongoing commitment to veterans’ services in Cook County. She is vice-chair of the Veteran’s Committee at the county board. She stated that the county had “re-upped our commitments to veterans” by spearheading such efforts as tripling the budget of the county’s Veterans Assistance Commission.
Mayor Daniel Biss thanked the veterans for taking the “responsibility of action for the betterment of all to a level most of us could only dream of.” He added that this year’s veteran’s day ceremony “might land differently” because current events overseas “bring home the horror of war.”
Biss said that those who do not serve in the military need to “make a constant effort to understand what it takes to preserve our freedom,” and not to take that freedom for granted.