By Douglas Katz – 05/01/2023
As a veteran. I often hear “thank you for your service” from people when they hear that I served. I always appreciate it, but I sometimes feel like an imposter. This is not due to lack of effort, but rather luck. I had a great career at West Point and in the Army afterward, but I had the blessing of serving in a mostly peacetime military. It is not that I did not put in 100% when in uniform and that I did not sacrifice when it was necessary. My sacrifice, however, no matter how meaningful at the time means little in comparison to my brothers and sisters in arms who shed blood or made the ultimate sacrifice on our country’s battlefields or training to ensure that others do not have to.
This is why we have Memorial Day and, in turn, why we erect this memorial every year. It is an opportunity to remember through our thoughts and more importantly actions how much we remember and value the sacrifice of our women and men in uniform, especially those who gave everything. Each flag at this field represents someone who gave all that they were and all that they hoped to be for our country. They won’t be attending sales, cook-outs or anything else this weekend, so we create this memorial so they will not be forgotten. To ensure that they are not, each flag is marked with the name of the fallen Illinoisan. It is truly moving and we commonly have families and friends of a remembered veteran visit this site, especially if their loved one is interred elsewhere.
I highly encourage anyone with some time over Memorial Day to come by and see. Better yet, come by and lend a hand with the set up and break down. This is how I became part of this organization and how I turned my own casual support into something meaningful in remembering these amazing men and women.