November 11, 2019
11:00 a.m. Start
American Legion Post 300
Presented by Mayor Ruben Pineda
Veterans – men and women in service to their country, the embodiment of everything that has made this country the greatest nation in the world – courage, honor, grit, determination, and an undying loyalty to the basic tenets upon which this country was founded. Today we honor you for all you have done to protect our democracy from tyranny, and our personal freedom from oppression.
Would all of our veterans present please remain seated, and would everyone else, if able, please stand, look around the room making eye contact with each of these American patriots, and give them a round of applause that will rock these walls
It is my honor to speak to you this day, set apart from the other 364 days, designated Veterans Day. Today, all across the country, gatherings like this are taking place to pay tribute to the men and women of all the military branches of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
And that is as it should be, for who is more responsible for our way of life than the American veteran.
The successful mission of United States Special Operation forces last month to rid the world of the brutal terrorist leader of Isis will go down in history as one of the most valiant, well executed military feats of our time. Imagine the skill, determination, and courage required to accomplish this mission. That is the American veteran, motivated by duty, love of country, and fierce loyalty to the principles of democracy.
To our veterans here this morning, you answered the call, leaving families, homes, and your very lives behind for an unknown destiny. You did this resolutely, without question. You did this for Country. Thank you for the sacrifice in your service. Thank you also to West Chicago’s military spouses, parents, and other family members who counted down long and painful years for your safe return.
And when you did return, the spirit of service was embedded in the core of your very being, and you picked up your lives and returned to classrooms, board rooms, factories, and farms. Public service became a way of life for many, like Richard Dick Truitt, who served during the invasion of Normandy as a tank driver and also took part in the Battle of the Bulge in the 3rd Armored Division. Returning to West Chicago, he married his high school classmate Catherine, herself a Cadet Nurse, and chose teaching as his profession, working with youth both in and out of the classroom. He was one of my mentors and instilled in me the importance of serving others. He later became an Alderman on West Chicago’s City Council, and then Mayor, contributing in great ways to the West Chicago we enjoy today.
Other notable veterans who currently strive to make our community better by their work in various intergovernmental organizations include:
- Senior Airman Nicole Minor (now Prater) of the United States Air National Guard, serving as Winfield Township Clerk;
- United States Navy veteran Scott Turney, serving as a West Chicago Park District Commissioner;
- Army veteran Richard J. Bloom who serves as a Trustee on the West Chicago Public Library Board;
- Captain in the United States Army Tim Whelan, serving as a Commissioner for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County;
- veteran of the Marines, Bob Larson, now a DuPage County Board member;
- Marines veteran Juan Chavez, and Army veteran Charles Donnelly who now serve on the DuPage Airport Authority Board;
- Army veteran James Beifuss, Air Force Veteran Al Hallett, Navy veteran Michael Ferguson, and Women’s Army Corp veteran Nancy Smith all currently serving on West Chicago’s City Council;
- Many of West Chicago’s first responders hail from the ranks of a military background; U.S. Navy vet Michael Myers, and US Air Force vet David Link, of the West Chicago Fire Protection District;
- From our Police Department, Army veterans John Zurick, Jose Gaztambide, Robert Winton, Mike Cummings, Jacob Fuller, and Chris Richards; from the Marines Mike Zepeda, Andy Alaniz, Tony Reyes, Blake Bertany, Derek Mielke, and Ryan Moore; and Army National Guard, Don Landbo.
These are some of the people who shape our world through their actions, deeds and service.
I encourage all members of our community to find ways to show appreciation to our veterans. Volunteer here at the American Legion or the VFW; buy a meal for a homeless veteran; proudly fly the American flag at home or at your business; ask a loved one for stories about their time in the service and listen patiently; re-read the Constitution of the United States; take time to explain this nation’s history and the many conflicts for which our veterans sacrificed their lives with children and young people, so that they develop a deeper respect and appreciation for America’s heroes.
And most importantly, strive to be your own best self. Our veterans stand ready to fight for our freedom, keep this country worthy of their sacrifice.
Use your voice and actions to build a strong United States, one that remains faithful to its founders’ vision to “form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”.
Thank you to all the groups and individuals responsible for today’s celebration of our veterans. Earlier this month the City recognized the American Legion Auxiliary, the world’s largest patriotic service organization, with a Proclamation on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. With over 600,000 members the American Legion Auxiliary is one of the nation’s most prominent supporters of veterans, military, and their families. We are proud and grateful for your service and support in our community.
And finally, thank you to everyone here today for prioritizing a small part of your day to honor the brave men and women of our military. God bless our veterans, God bless West Chicago, and God bless the United States of America.