Honor Winnebago County veterans

Nov. 11 marks the observance of Veterans’ Day. Following is a list of area events honoring veterans.

The Kishwaukee Valley Band will hold its annual Veterans’ Day concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9 at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 675 N. Mulford Rd. Titled “An American Pageant!” the concert will feature Cherry Valley native Staff Sgt. Andrew Fordham as a guest French horn player.

Tuesday, Nov. 11, kicks off with an Outdoor Observance at Memorial Hall at 10:30 a.m. The program honors the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marking the official end of World War I. Guest speaker is Capt. Kenneth Crawford, Commander, U. S. Army Recruiting Co. of Loves Park. Following Crawford’s speech, the observance will conclude at 11 a.m. with a 21-gun salute, the playing of TAPS and church bells.

Next, the Rockford Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will hold its Veterans’ Day Annual Commemoration in the Memorial Hall auditorium. A light lunch will be served. Free-will donations will be used in support of veterans’ activities.

Beginning with the observance and running until 1 p.m., an outdoor exhibit of military equipment will be on display on North Main Street in front of Memorial Hall. On the lower level of Memorial Hall, the World War II Re-enactment group will have a display of World War II memorabilia.

At 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 11, the traditional Veterans’ Day Banquet will be held at Cliffbreakers, sponsored by the Winnebago County Veterans Association. Tickets are $17.50 and may be purchased at the County Administration Building, 404 Elm St., Room 504. Information: 987-2590.

Guest speaker for the evening banquet is Lt. Col. John Gessner, who recently returned from military assignment in Afghanistan and Iraq. The subject of Col. Gessner’s speech is “The Spirit of America’s Serviceman.”

Wednesday, Nov. 12, the traditional Field of Honor ceremony will be held at the Arthur W. Anderson Peace Park in Loves Park. Guest speaker for this year’s program is Major General John L. Borling. Music will be provided by Harlem High School.

One of the locations where Veterans’ Day events are being held—Memorial Hall (211 No. Main St.) also has great significance in the history of this nation. In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt came to Winnebago County to dedicate the nation’s very first Memorial Hall—A Tribute to Soldiers and Sailors—making this year the Centennial Celebration of Memorial Hall. Memorial Hall still stands in all of its splendor today, serving as a lasting memorial to the veterans who have served their country. The second floor auditorium is a tribute to the past and a treasure preserved for the future.

Veterans’ Day began as “Armistice Day,” which was approved as an Act of Congress on May 13, 1938, declaring Nov. 11 a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated in honor of veterans of World War I.

After World War II required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history, and after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress at the urging of veterans service organizations amended the Act of 1938 on June 1, 1954, by removing “Armistice” and inserting “Veterans,” thereby establishing Nov. 11 as a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

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