Veterans Honored in Hazel Crest

Veterans who served in all branches of the United States military were honored Saturday at the American Legion Hall, 17034 Page Ave. in Hazel Crest, IL. Local, state and federal elected officials, many of whom served in the armed forces, celebrated the military veterans in honor of Veteran’s Day.

“Veteran’s Day is the day we get to celebrate the service of those who protected our freedoms overseas and here at home,” said Illinois State Sen. Mike Hastings (Dist.-19). “Our greatest asset in our country is the young men and women in our armed forces and its right that we appreciate what they do.

As a veteran, I understand the sacrifices families have to make to serve and I think ceremonies like today are perfect. We get to recognize all the veterans in Hazel Crest.”

Ill. Sen. Hastings served in the Army and earned the rank of captain in the 1st Infantry Division. He spoke of how much he values his life, recalling a fatal car bombing that claimed the lives of his fellow servicemen — a mission that he was otherwise normally assigned to.

Vernard Alsberry Jr., Hazel Crest Village President and military veteran was also present during the event.

“What I try to do every year, especially this year, is honor our veterans,” said Alsberry. “You learn to provide service before self. Understanding that when you’re in the political realm or public service realm it’s all about service to the citizens in your community or in your neighborhood. I take that service before self from the military and apply it to my daily life.”

Alsberry served in the United States Air Force from 1977 to 1987 as a physical therapy technician.

The significance and meaning of Veteran’s Day was highlighted during the emotional ceremony.

“Many people think about Memorial Day when we mourn and honor people who have died for this country but Veteran’s Day is a celebration of those who have served,” said Ill. State Rep. Al Riley (Dist.-38). “It’s very important across the country but specifically in the South Suburbs. We have a lot of veterans, we have a lot of VFW and American Legion posts and these people are all about giving. They gave up their time to serve in the service; many of them give up their lives.”

Ill. State Rep. Riley served in the Army from 1972-1978 both active and reserve as a staff sergeant and worked in the infantry, psychological operations and civil affairs.

Veterans were acknowledged, too, for their personal sacrifices. Leo Moore, a Vietnam veteran, was honored in particular for his outstanding service and sacrifices. Moore, who is bound to a motorized wheelchair, is proud of his military service.

“I was just doing what I needed to do in those days,” said Moore. “It was beautiful being honored because when I first came home they were throwing bags of dog feces at us in California and calling us baby killers. We had a saying in Vietnam ‘all gave some, some gave all’.”

U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly (Il. – 2nd) stated at the ceremony that she would continue fighting for veterans at home.

“This day is also a reminder that we must offer our encouragement and unwavering support to the thousands of service men and women who are coming home from Afghanistan and served so nobly in Iraq,” said Kelly. “We are all indebted to you for what you did for this country and offering words of praise is not enough.”

The host of the honoring ceremony, Michael Jennings, Executive of Community Affairs for the NFL Alumni for Chicago told the Chicago Citizen Newspaper, “Veteran’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge men and women who have shown tremendous courage under fire [that] have said not on my watch and not today.”

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