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Kaneland Connection: Patriotism takes center stage at Kaneland

Assembly to feature Cornelison, Medal of Honor recipient and three-star general

MAPLE PARK – Jim Cornelison is known for his rousing rendition of the national anthem before Chicago Blackhawks games, with fans at the United Center cheering throughout the song.

But when Cornelison belts out the anthem in March at a patriotic assembly at Kaneland High School, the assembly’s organizer said he expects a different environment. Rudy Keller, Kaneland’s interim athletic director, said he has brought in Cornelison for such events at other schools, and he said students understood the difference between a veterans assembly and a Blackhawks game.

“We asked the students to be quiet,” Keller said. “It’s a different atmosphere than the United Center.”

Keller is planning the event for 8 a.m. March 17 at the high school, which is at 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. He said he is putting it together to remind students that “every day, you should support the red, white and blue,” and that “patriotism is not just three times a year, during Veterans Day, Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.”

Although Cornelison might be the local celebrity whose name jumps out, Keller is excited about the veterans who will be at the event. Allen Lynch, a Medal of Honor recipient, will be the keynote speaker. Lt. Gen. Randall Rigby, a three-star general, also will appear.

Keller said the event will honor three “gold-star families” from Kaneland, each celebrating a soldier who “gave the ultimate sacrifice to our country” – Robert Domena from the Kaneland Class of 1990, Richard Wormdahl from the Class of 1963 and Edwin Turk Jr. from the Class of 1962.

Also, Leslie Hill from the American Chamber Opera will sing “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America,” and Keller said he will be inviting “as many veterans from the community that I can find” to be part of the assembly. He said he wants them to embrace the opportunity “to be in the presence of a Medal of Honor recipient. … It’s such a rare occasion to be in the presence of a Medal of Honor recipient.” He said local veterans should feel free to contact him via email at

Keller said he has worked with many of the participants in the assembly before and is excited about the event. And if Cornelison is kicking it off, he has a history of getting others pumped up.

“He is the guy,” Keller said. “There is nobody who does the national anthem like Jim Cornelison.”

‘Laramie Project’ at Kaneland

An additional performance of “The Laramie Project” will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Black Box Theatre in the Kaneland High School auditorium, 47W326 Kelsinger Road, Maple Park. Last week, a snowy forecast canceled the first performance of the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s winter theater production, but the show went on the rest of the weekend.

The event is presented by the KAI, in partnership with the Kindness Campaign, a group that has sought to spread its message – “Be Nice. Be Happy” – in response to bullying in the Kaneland School District. A discussion will follow the presentation.

The entrance is through door 32, which is north of the entrance. KAI is not able to accept debit or credit cards. Those attending should pay with cash or a check. The cost is $10 for adults and $8 for students and senior citizens.

“The Laramie Project” is a drama that depicts the account of the townspeople in Laramie, Wyo., after the death of Matthew Shepherd.

Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

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