COAL CITY – The Coal City Library held its fifth annual Veterans Day Celebration on Monday, which included a flag ceremony, a musical performance and speeches from local veterans, Diamond Mayor Teresa Kernc and state Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris.
“It’s important for the community to get together and celebrate,” said Dana Abraham, organizer of the event. “The community is small so we know all of our veterans and we like to honor and celebrate them.”
The day began with a flag raising ceremony by the St. Juvin VFW Post 1336 and the Coal City American Legion Post 796 and was followed by a trumpet solo of “To The Colors” by R.J. Nichols.
Guests moved inside the library to hear four speakers and look at displays of military memorabilia from local veterans.
Among the displays were the belongings of Lance Cpl. Cecil Russell. Russell’s sister contributed the memorabilia which included the bible he carried during combat, the letters he wrote to his mother and the Purple Heart he received for his service.
Russell is the only Coal City veteran who died serving in the Vietnam War.
Event speaker Glenn Gavril of the Coal City American Legion Post 796 stressed the importance of remembering veterans, like Russell, who gave their lives in combat.
“They won’t be remembered unless we remember,” Gavril said. “Every day we’re alive is a bonus, and no one knows that better than a veteran, his family or his children.”
Rezin thanked and recognized the 15 veterans in attendance at the beginning of her speech.
“Each Veterans Day is an opportunity to think about the nation’s history, regardless of how difficult or painful that may be,” Rezin said.
Kernc – who lived part of her childhood on a military base in Guantanamo Bay Cuba – said Veterans Day is her favorite holiday.
“It’s my favorite because of my father who re-enlisted in the Navy when I was 10 years old,” Kernc said.
Kernc said growing up on a military base made her appreciate the safety and protection the military provides for all U.S. citizens.
Returning speaker Charles Brown of the St. Juvin VFW Post 1336 spoke about the VFW’s Buddy Poppy program and encouraged everyone to visit Coal City’s Veterans Monument located on Division Street.
The names of all local veterans are etched on the surface of the stone monument.
“There seems to be an awful lot of names for a town this size,” Brown said.
Brown’s family was in attendance, including his granddaughter Lauren Brown.
“We come to this every year,” said Gail Brown, Lauren’s mother. “She may not get fully get it now, but I think it helps her understand what her freedom is about and the key role her grandparents played in that.”