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Neighbors

Joan Knows: Veterans Day, past and present

Once again it is time to participate in Veterans Day. There are a number of ways to be involved in this observance. Some hear the 11 o’clock siren, which traditionally has symbolic reference to the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when the treaty to end World War I was signed.

Those folks may simply pause and reflect on the sacrifices and service of those in the military. Others choose to attend public ceremonies.

These days many schools stage a remembrance and have local veterans share stories, a recent modification of having the day off!

In days long ago, the 11th was celebrated as opening day of the pheasant season and the date of the Geneva vs. St. Charles football game.

Our family was interested in these traditions but always turned out for the parade to wave to Grandpa Jim Arteberry, who rode in the open convertible with the other Spanish-American War veterans.

At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month on a sunny day in Madison, Wis., in 1978, Phil and I were married and then set out to the Badgers vs. Spartans football game. 

The legend is that we had 80,000 people at our wedding reception and a very large band that played our favorite songs while marching in formation.

Fittingly, the game ended in a tie. For details, ask Sharon and Carl Bergquist who were there.

Through the next years, when Phil and comrades in American Legion Post 342 and VFW Post 5036 staged the downtown commemorative event, there was another opportunity to wave and catch the patriotic spirit.

This year, joined by Amvets Post 503, the Post 5036 VFW and American Legion Post 342 will gather at the Freedom Walk just behind the Municipal Building in St. Charles  at 10:40 a.m. to commemorate the service of all veterans – those who were in combat; those who kept the peace; those who supported the mission at home and abroad; and those who made the supreme sacrifice.

All of these men and women left their homes, delayed education and careers and family life.

A snapshot is of local veterans, such as John Wredling, now 99, and the scant few World War II survivors, such as Ray Marck and Warren Kammerer.

(Note that former WAVE, Betty Butler, and Angelo DiLiberti, have recently each made a tandem parachute jump.)

The World War I veteran I knew best was at Gartner’s Bakery at the corner of West Main and Second Street. 

The elder Mr. Gartner had a mini office that was open and high up – just across the bakery section. More than once he saw me and knew me as a frequent customer – often accompanied by Grandpa Steve Sharkin’s German Shepherd, who was accustomed to a vanilla ice cream cone dispensed by another Gartner.

Proudly, Mr. Gartner would go to a certain desk drawer and take out a folded piece of paper. He slowly revealed his treasure – a “cootie” brought back from a trench somewhere in France.

You will detect other veterans by their still visible or hidden disabilities; by the “can do” attitude in business and community service; or by that commanding presence of a John DePauw, Chuck Ingersoll or the ultimate marine, Dan Orland. Some, like Mister Z, adorn their vehicles and sweat shirts with familiar insignia.

Most are simply our neighbors and friends.

 Lately it has become a frequent salute to first responders, servicemen and women and veterans to say “thank you for your service.”

 Keep that in mind. 

• Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Her columns are featured in the Kane County Chronicle’s Neighbors section every other Friday. Write to her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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