Niles Honors Veterans On 11/11/11
Village manager makes moving personal announcement.
The Niles commemoration of Veterans Day had a solemn feel, with rifle shots, speeches, a bugler playing "Taps" and tributes to those who have served in the United States armed services.
Jim Kozak of Niles VFW Post #7712 emceed the ceremony, held outside the Niles Historical Society Museum.
Amidst many moving moments, one was very personal. Village manager George Van Geem took the microphone, saying that while he doesn't usually speak at such events, today was a special day in the life of his family.
His father-in-law, Joseph Sokolowski, served in World Was II, he said.
"This morning at 5:15 we lost him. He passed away," Van Geem said, asking the crowd to remember him in their prayers.
Other officials paid tribute to veterans, including Trustee Louella Preston, who said she and her husband John had visited the D-Day invasion beaches last summer--Sword, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Utah.
"At the American Cemetery, we participated in a memorial service to veterans who had given the supreme sacrifice," she said, noting it was a moving event.
Niles Fire Department Chief Steve Borkowski said that, after watching the news recently and hearing of liberals and conservatives all expressing their viewpoints, he thought about how veterans made it possible for all Americans to have freedom of speech and opinion.
"It's sometimes taken for granted, but we've seen in the rest of the world that the right to disagree is not always tolerated," he said, citing Libya's recent overthrow of its dictator Moammar Quaddafi.
He expressed thanks to veterans wo had died, those who served and are still living and soldiers who are currently serving.
Henry Budge IV, a student at Notre Dame College Prep, played "Taps" on the bugle, and two VFW post members shot rifles into the air.