Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Naperville Sun - "Parade To Honor Those Who Served"


On Monday, the Naperville American Legion Post No. 43 and Judd Kendall Post No. 3873 VFW will co-sponsor the city's 92nd annual Memorial Day parade.

"What we do is we honor those who gave their life and service," said co-chairman of the parade committee Terry Jelinek.

A flag-raising ceremony will start the day at City Hall at 8 a.m. honoring those who served in the armed forces.

Before the parade, taps and volley services are scheduled to be held at Veterans Park on Gartner Road at 8:30 a.m., the Burlington Park Doughboy Monument at 8:50, St. Peter %26 Paul Cemetery at 9:15 and at the GAR Monument in Naperville Cemetery at 10.

At 10:30, the 76-unit parade will start at West Street and Jackson Avenue and move to Washington Street, go north on Washington Street, east on Jefferson Avenue, north on Brainard Street and west on Van Buren Avenue to Central Park.

"It started in 1917 by the American Legion to honor troops coming back from the first World War and to decorate the graves of the soldiers who fought in the Civil War and the Spanish-American War," said Ron Keller, chairman of the Parade Committee. "It was popular, so they continued it."

About 1929, school kids were included in the parade, as well as school bands, he added.

"When I was in grade school, all the classes marched with their teachers from kindergarten through third grade and most carried flags or flowers," Keller said. "When they got to the cemetery, they put the flags or flowers on the graves of their relatives."

This year's grand marshal will be Rear Adm. Michael J. Browne of the United States Navy.

Browne heard the Naperville Memorial Day parade was a large and patriotic one and, having relatives in the area, wanted to march in the parade, Keller said.

The regular parade marshal is Wayne Fischer and the officer of the day is Priscilla Laubscher; both of whom are American Legion and VFW members, Keller said.

The parade will include veterans riding in cars, a 21-gun honor guard from the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, a float from the Illinois Aviation Museum, a color guard from the University of Illinois, a Humvee from Operation Support Our Troops, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, school bands, Indian Guides, Little League and various fraternal organizations.

"We always invite military units that are in the area," Jelinek said. "Depending on if they're on deployment, we don't always get them. Politicians are not invited. It's honoring our dead, so we tell them no."

Immediately after the parade at 12:15 p.m., a service will be held at the Community Concert Center at downtown's Central Park, 104 E. Benton Ave. The Naperville Municipal Band will perform patriotic selections and service songs. The day's events will close about 12:45 with a service at Blackhawk Monument including a prayer, rifle volley, taps and the "Star-Spangled Banner."

"Naperville is pretty unique," Keller said. "A lot of towns have a Memorial Day parade, but they don't have the involvement that we do."

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