ROCHELLE — On Friday, a Veterans Day ceremony was held at the war memorial at Lawnridge Cemetery. Speakers included Rochelle Mayor John Bearrows, VFW Post 3878 Commander Joe Drought and American Legion Post 403 Senior Vice Commander Chuck Roberts.
Bearrows started the ceremony by asking for a moment of silence for attendees to reflect on veterans in their own lives that they’ve lost. The mayor’s speech touched on the history of Veterans Day and how it’s grown in the country.
“Today, we honor all veterans who unselfishly laid their lives on the line for our freedom,” Bearrows said. “Those men and women were just ordinary people until they heard the call of duty, and they answered. They left their families, homes and lives. Not for the recognition or fame or the honor we bestow upon them today. They fought to protect America and to maintain and preserve our way of life.”
Bearrows challenged those in attendance and the community to honor veterans and remember their sacrifices. He wants even those that aren’t in the military to take up the “defense of freedom.”
“The defense of freedom is not just for those in the military,” Bearrows said. “Each of us share that duty and responsibility. If we want to preserve freedoms, we must act. Vote in our elections and make your voice heard. Stand up for what you do and don't believe in. We must ensure that everyone feels the benefit of freedom. We do that by volunteering within our communities. We need to share with our young people the true meaning of freedom and teach our children what it truly means to be an American. Putting a flag in a yard does not make an American. You have to live by what that flag stands for.”
Drought said that Veterans Day is a day of “deep significance and opportunity” for the VFW organization that works to serve those who have served. Along with being a day of appreciation, Drought believes the holiday should also act as a day of reflection.
“It's a day to think about the awesome responsibility that is ours and what it takes to maintain this land of the free and home of the brave,” Drought said. “Across the nation patriotic Americans are gathering at events like this one and are remembering the countless sacrifices of our veterans. Veterans Day is a day for every American to contemplate the price of our liberty.
Happy Veterans Day to all of America's veterans and sincere and heartfelt thank you."
Roberts, who also runs the Roberts Armory World War II Museum, spoke about the diverse duties of service members both in and out of combat. Approximately seven soldiers are in the background doing other work for every soldier that is in combat.
Roberts hopes people in the community will talk to veterans and gain a better understanding of what they did in their time serving the country.
“It will be an interesting experience and I think you will always remember it,” Roberts said. “Veterans, please share your story with others. Let people know what you've done so you can see the many faces of military service and appreciate the personal service of their neighbors. To all veterans, thank you for your service.”
At the end of the speeches, the Eastern Lee-Ogle Honor Guard performed the closing ceremony with a salute.