For many, Memorial Day means barbecuing, but for others, it’s a time to dedicate the day to those fallen soldiers who served in the United States military and those serving right now.
More than 200 people from Evergreen Park and its surrounding areas gathered for a Memorial Day dedication ceremony that unveiled ’s newest memorial in honor of not only WWII veterans but those who served and are serving in the Korean, Vietnam, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
“We thought it was lovely and very moving. My father, (a Korean War Veteran) pasted away last year. (The ceremony) just reminded me of him and I think he would’ve wanted us to come,” said Kim Dowgiallo of Palos Heights.
The memorial stone casted pad is larger to fit the original plaques honoring WWII veterans as well as all others who served in all the wars the U.S. has been in involved in. Red and Blue flowers, and Evergreen trees surround the memorial to display the United States’ colors and symbolize Evergreen Park's American Legion Post 854’s pride in serving its country. It took the legion three years of planning and construction to establish the new memorial, said Bill Murray, the Commander of American Legion Post 854, who stood by the wavering new United States’ flag to speak at the Memorial Day dedication ceremony.
The American Legion of Evergreen Park wanted a more attractive design that would last longer and commemorate all veterans’ involvement in present and past wars, Murray said.
During the ceremony, Edward Muscharella a WWII veteran who served in the 26th infantry and his wife presented a wreath to commemorate all veterans. Muscharella gives back to the community by visiting various schools to share his WWII artifacts.
“(Memorial Day) should never be forgotten; the ones who gave it their all should be remembered,” Murray said.
Old fashioned rifles surrounded a helmet to honor 39 fallen members of the legion as a chaplain recited a prayer in remembrance at the ceremony.
Carol Bunyan of Chicago stood in awe of the effort put forth to remember her brother, one of the 39 members who pasted away this year.
For many veterans it is an important day to remember those whom they’ve lost to war. Veteran Joseph Urbauer said it was an important day for him to remember the many comrades he lost to WWII War specifically.
Robert Hestroffer, a bugler for the legion, noted that crowds of people showing up for the Memorial Day Ceremony to remember those who served their country to ensure citizens of the U.S. freedoms was very meaningful to him.
All year around, the legion fundraises for military funds and private charities such as the Evergreen Park Lion’s Club and local sports teams. This year they plan to have a 1950's dance to raise money for the various charities they support. The American Legion Post 854 has 757 members including the Sons of the American Legion and an auxiliary women group. Together they raised $30,000 for the new memorial.
“The legion does a lot of work for the community," said Kathleen Davies, a resident of Evergreen Park. "I think more people should be aware of it.”
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