The 630 | Honoring Sacrifice

May 2018 View more

There’s a moment when time seems to freeze for Tom Parker, a West Point graduate and commander at Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873 in Naperville. It happened last Memorial Day, as the ceremonies started at City Hall. He stood there, remembering his friends and all who have died at war.

“It’s a time to reflect and think about the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice, so we can live the lives that we do every day,” says Parker, a helicopter pilot who spent 21 years serving on active duty and in the National Guard and Army Reserve systems, including a stint in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.

“A lot of people don’t think about those sacrifices unless it’s Memorial Day, and they realize the true meaning of the day. I know I always pause a little longer that day to think about all the military veterans who lost their lives while serving and those that served and are no longer with us. They were truly remarkable people that did great things, so we can enjoy the lives we have.”

His fellow Judd Kendall VFW members are especially active during the days before Memorial Day. They distribute red poppies and accept donations throughout Naperville—at the train station and at various local stores—to raise money for their veteran’s assistance fund, says Parker, who retired from the National Guard in 2005.

On Memorial Day itself, after a brief service at Naperville City Hall starting at 7:45 a.m., the veterans get on buses, which transport them around town throughout the morning, stopping at four other locations associated with veterans, such as the Civil War Grand Army of the Republic monument at Naperville Cemetery and the Spirit of the American Doughboy statue at Burlington Square.

Then comes the big event: the Memorial Day Parade, which starts at 10:30 a.m. The Judd Kendall VFW Post partners with American Legion Post 43 and the Naperville Municipal Band to conduct the day’s events, including the parade. After the parade ends, there is a short program with guest speakers at the band shell in Central Park in downtown Naperville.

“We are very fortunate to be in a community that really embraces military veterans,” Parker says. “We see that every Memorial Day just by the sheer number of people who come out to watch the parade and participate in the memorial services. Naperville is a great community for veterans.”

In Memorium
On Monday, May 28, there will be several activities in Naperville sponsored by the local VFW Post to honor veterans:

7:45 a.m. Flag raising and ceremony at City Hall (400 South Eagle Street)

8:15 a.m. Services at Veteran’s Park (100 East Gartner Road)

8:35 a.m. Services at Burlington Square Park (101–199 North Avenue)

9:00 a.m. Services at Saints Peter & Paul Cemetery (North Columbia Avenue)

9:45 a.m. Services at G.A.R. Monument in Naperville Cemetery (705 South Washington Street)

10:30 a.m. Memorial Day Parade (begins at Jackson and West Streets, east to Washington Street, north to Benton Avenue, east to Saints Peter & Paul)