OAK BROOK – Every Veterans Day, there are fewer who will recount firsthand the smoke-filled skies and deafening blasts on the beaches of Normandy.
About 60 years from now, veterans from the conflicts in the Middle East will face a similar reality.
No matter where or when one has served, Veterans Day is a way to pay tribute to all those who make sacrifices for their nation. On Monday, the Oak Brook Historical Society hosted its third annual Veterans Day Commemoration at the Oak Brook Village Hall. In attendance were several area veterans from World War II and on.
Oak Brook Village President Gopal Lalmalani expressed his gratitude and said while thankfulness is expressed with words, gratitude is expressed with action.
"We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice," Lalmalani said. "Every day should be Veterans Day. Not just today."
State Rep. Patti Bellock, R-Hinsdale, knows that sacrifice first hand as her father and uncles served in the military. She said in her office reads a banner, "Home of the brave because of the brave," and expressed her gratitude as well to all those who have served.
"Many have died and even more have come back barring the scars of that service," Bellock said.
A presentation was also shown displaying pictures of all veterans from the Oak Brook area, 85 in all, and 21 of which were in WWll.
"I think that's remarkable from a village of 8,000," said Kathy Maher, president of the Oak Brook Historical Society.
Tony DiCanio of Oak Brook served in the Army reserves during the Vietnam era, 1969-75, and this was his third time attending the Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by the village and the historical society.
"Kathy Maher did a phenomenal job and she's the reason I'm here," DiCanio said.
Bill Bristow, a 45-year resident of Oak Brook, served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946. He has been to the ceremony before, but this year was extra special as a photo of him and his two sons who were in the Air Force was shown during the presentation.
"It was great to see dad's picture with his two sons," Bristow said.
Ever since the "Shot heard around the World" in the Revolutionary War, countless men and women have served in the military while those at home have tried to do what they can to honor them. While a few holidays are set aside specifically, it's the hope from Lalmalani that every day serves as a tribute.
"Because of your services and sacrifices, we've been able to enjoy our freedom and liberty," Lalmalani said.