The fifth annual Memorial Day Ceremony and Service at the was a solemn event packed with meaning and memories.
The College of Lake County Willow Lake Veterans Monument Committee wants to honor fallen veterans through a new bronze statue of a soldier. A rendering of the statue was shown during the May 25 ceremony in Grayslake.
The $40,000 statue be part of the Lake County Willow Lake Veterans Memorial, located at CLC, according to Wayne Maczko, chairman of the CLC Veterans Memorial Task Force.
The Memorial Day event was sponsored by the CLC Veterans Memorial Task Force and the Veterans Assistance Commission of Lake County. The VAC represents 42 veterans organizations.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Lynn Peterson opened the ceremony with a prayer.
"Memorial Day is a solemn occassion," she said. "We are so grateful for those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members who paid the ultimate sacrifice...the grateful nation has not forgotten their sacrifice."
She concluded her prayer with: "Let us lift up those in harm's way or those who are missing in action. Guide them safely home again."
Sheila Baker Bondurant sang the national anthem.
Keynote speaker Msgt. Jeff Moore, U.S.A.F. (Ret.), served 23 years in the Air Force. His twin brother and daughter are also in the Air Force, as was his father. Moore shared stories of his father flying missions, some in Soviet airspace, during the Cold War.
"My father faced death constantly, but he was lucky," Moore said. "He returned home alive. Many others never did. That is why we are here today."
He stressed the importance of Memorial Day ceremonies.
"It is our solemn responsibility to remember that when the nation called, they answered with their lives," Moore said.
Ryan Frey, AZCS(AW/MTS) U.S. Navy (Ret.) and CLC employee, said he appreciated all of the people he served with, the traditions they kept and the ports of call they visited. The tough parts of service were "looking into my wife's face as I was about to leave for deployment."
"When I was overseas, it was moments of utter boredom punctuated with sheer terror," Frey said with candor. "But being a veteran is synonomous with sacrifice. And my sacrifices were small in comparison."
Manuel Arteaga, HM2 (FMF) U.S. Navy OIF, said Memorial Day became very real to him when he served in Iraq and had to see "so many lives that were gone all around us" as he saw multiple fatalities all around him.
"It was devastating and depressing to see al of these young lives that were cut short, Arteaga said, "and to think of all of the things they never got to do."
Both veterans ended on positive notes and said they were grateful for the sacrifices of others.
The 13 folds of the flag were then demonstrated, where active military members showed the proper technique and what each fold represents.
The names of fallen veterans from throughout Lake County were read. A closing prayer was given by Peterson. Then the wreath was placed beneath the flags at CLC, with a flag detail and taps played, followed by bagpiper Mary Tallman.
Peck closed the service and thanked everyone for attending the Memorial Day remembrance event. Special thanks was given to Wayne Maczko, chariman of the CLC Veterans Memorial Task Force.