“We pause to remember”

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“We pause to remember”

Lyons, Bedford Park honor fallen on Memorial Day

By Steve Metsch

In communities around the area Monday, men and women who gave their lives for our county were remembered with somber Memorial Day services.

Such was the case in Lyons, at the eternal flame on Ogden Avenue, and in Bedford Park, at the veterans memorial at Archer and Roberts roads.

The occasion caused veterans like James Koc, 56, of Lyons, to recall seeing firsthand many in Europe seeking the freedoms enjoyed by Americans.

“I served eight years in the Army. I was in Europe stationed on the Czech border. It’s weird. At that time, there were countries who didn’t want their citizens to leave. Today brings that to mind for me,” said Koc, a member of Stickney American Legion Post 687.

“When I was in the Army, you had a fence going across Europe and guard towers. People don’t realize that. That’s one of the things our military took down,” he said of The Berlin Wall, which fell in 1989.

Koc was in Lyons at the flame located near the pumping station. He and family members heard brief comments from the Emil Scheive American Legion Post 699 and Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty.

“It’s truly an honor we all come together on this day,” Getty told the crowd of about 100.

“On Memorial Day, we honor those who served. But the main reason for Memorial Day is to remember those individuals who served in the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice of giving their life. These individuals gave their lives defending our country, defending our liberties and defending our freedoms,” Getty said.

“Today, we give specific pause to pay tribute. We pause to remember those loved ones and heroes who never returned home. They sacrificed everything for us, for all Americans and for our great country and all our freedoms. We thank them. We remember them. We support them. And, most of all, we honor them,” Getty said.

Guitarist Dave Molinary then led the group through “God Bless America” before a Marine placed a wreath at the eternal flame.

Charles Gerny, commander of the Scheive Post, called Monday “a day of remembrance for all our soldiers, men and women who never came back. And the ones who passed in peace time, too. A lot of people think it’s the beginning of grilling season, which it’s not. It’s a day to remember our comrades we lost. And we remember the people who are still POW, MIA. We have to remember them, too.”

A similar sentiment was found earlier Monday in Bedford Park.

Mayor Dave Brady noted that Monday would have been the 100th birthday of President John F. Kennedy, who served in the Navy during World War II

“President Kennedy, in his inaugural speech in 1961, stated ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ Veterans are people who have done that and we greatly appreciate their efforts,” Brady said.

Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez, who also spoke, agreed: “My dad’s a veteran, he served in Vietnam, and I have an uncle, other family members who have served. I appreciate men and women who put their lives on the line,” Rodriguez said.

Brothers Brian and Marc Ponczek took photos of the memorial brick bearing the name of their late father, Bernard, who served in the Army. They sent the photos to siblings around the country.

Brian, of Willow Springs, held the helmet their father wore in the Army. “We always bring it out for remembrance,” said Brian, who also wore a replica jacket of one his father wore in the Army.

Bedford Park village trustees Tony Kensik, who served in the Marines, and Terry Stocks, Air Force, laid a colorful wreath of flowers at the memorial after Brandon Willis, of Bedford Park, played “Taps” on a bugle.

A sophomore at Moraine Valley Community College, Willis, 19, said he is always honored when asked to play the mournful, haunting song: “It’s touching. t’s good to dedicate a day to remember what was given. It’s the least I can do.”

Desplaines Valley News

Steve Metsch

Steve Metsch

Steve Metsch is an award winning veteran reporter who previously worked for the Daily Southtown Newspapers, Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times. Metsch is a writer and editor at the Southwest News Newspaper group based in suburban Chicago, and a freelance writer at the Chicago Tribune.
Email Steve Metsch at
Steve Metsch

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