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20 vets honored at Arden Courts in Geneva

'We are so grateful for your service'

GENEVA – Twenty veterans gathered in the community room at Arden Courts of Geneva to be honored at a Veterans Day event Nov. 11, a national holiday that honors military veterans.

Arden Courts provides residential care for those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments, according to its website.

U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren R-Winfield presented each vet with a certificate of service recognition, followed by Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, who presented each with a service pin provided by the facility. Both men also gave each vet a handshake and a thank-you.

“We are so grateful for your service,” Hultgren said. “You were willing to sacrifice everything. … And we want to thank you from the bottom of our heart for all you’ve done for us.”

As the two moved through the room, the solemnity of the occasion was also tempered with humor.

Hultgren thanked Dorothy Rothwell, noting she was a veteran Army nurse.

“Don’t thank me, I got myself a nice husband,” Rothwell said, prompting an outburst of laughter.

To Stanley Benton, a Navy veteran, Burns quipped that the certificate was “good for a free lunch at the Mill Race Inn,” also eliciting a laugh, as the restaurant was recently torn down.

Burns commented about his height – 6-foot-5 – to Army veteran Robert Cummins.

“You’re tall,” Burns said. “I didn’t know Army guys were that tall. … Did you play basketball?”

Cummins said he played at Immaculate Conception High School.

“Man oh man,” Burns said. “The Army could use you now.”

“I could use them,” Cummins replied, causing another outburst of chortling.

Army Air Corps veteran William Kramer flew more than 80 transport flights over the Himalayas during World War II, said Kathy Jarman, the veteran liaison for the agency.

“Congressman,” Burns said to Hutgren after he gave Kramer his pin. “Mr. Kramer said he was with 80 goofy young men who were subject to discharge at any moment.”

“They got the job done,” Hultgren said.

Veteran Garry Smart served in the Australian Service.

“I hope it’s OK that we give you a U.S. pin … with a United States flag on it,” Jarman said, as he accepted the pin.

Burns noted that veteran Robert Sejnost, who served in the Army, was a White Sox fan.

“Did you cheer for the Cubs the last couple weeks at least?” Burns asked.

“No,” Sejnost said. “Northsiders are weird.”

The program included patriotic songs led by music therapist Amber Johnson, "Taps" performed by John Carson on trumpet and the color guard was provided by American Legion Post 75 in Geneva.

Jarman also did a reading of “Beatitudes of American Servicemen and Women.”

“Blessed are you who labored for the greater good, for your sacrifice is a lesson in service,” Jarman said. “Blessed are you who stood in the face of dangers and fear, so we may rest in security and peace.”

Many vets had family and friends attend the ceremony and joined them with refreshments afterward.

Roberta and Dan Koebele of Kaneville, attended for her father, Robert Michalski, 93, a World War II Army veteran who served in the infantry and who was awarded a Purple Heart.

“The World War II guys are getting fewer and far between,” Dan Koebele said. “We definitely need to honor them. They paid an ultimate major price for what they did … in the Pacific Theater and the European Theater. It was a very nice ceremony. We need to honor these guys every chance we get – and ladies."

Joni Kupar and her daughter, Elizabeth, 21, of Elburn, attended for her father, John Storto, 87, a veteran of Korea.

“I thought it was very nice,” Joni Kupar said. “I thought it was nice for the congressman and mayor to come and personally honor them … it’s very memorable for the family to know that they care.”

Veterans honored at Arden Courts in Geneva on Veterans Day:

• Navy: Norman Bodda, Stanley Brenton Alan Daw, Hilda Flynn

• Army: Marshall Brodien, Robert Cummins, Edward Giomi, John Jerrard, Robert Michalski, Collin Nicholson, Dorothy Rothwell, James Schmidt, Robert Sejnost, Francis Smoczynski, John Storto

• Marines: Leslie Arno

• Air Force: Michael Loughman

• Army Air Corps: William Kramer, Lauri Kivisto

• Austrailian Service: Garry Smart

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