Veterans Day service accords solemn salute

Daniella Cheslow

About 130 people gathered Thursday morning at Evanston’s Fountain Square Veterans Memorial Plaza to celebrate Veterans Day.

World War II veteran Allen “Bo” Price, 82, of Evanston’s American Legion Post 42, was master of ceremonies at the service, which began at 10:30 a.m. on a numbingly cold day.

“Let the flags wave, let the bands play, let the living lay wreaths,” Mayor Lorraine H. Morton said after the ceremony opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer. “Let citizens continue to gather into posterity on this day.”

Among the other speakers was an aide to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston) and a member of Boy Scout Troop 3 of Evanston, who read the poem “In Flanders Field” by Lt. Col. John McCrae, who died while serving in a Canadian Army field hospital in World War I.

Veterans Day, formerly called Armistice Day, was originally established to commemorate the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended World War I.

The veterans were joined by a color guard and rifle squad from Northwestern’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. The rifle squad performed a 21-gun salute across the street from the plaza.

“It’s interesting to see the World War II veterans because they’re getting older,” said Susie Arshonsky, a McCormick senior and Naval ROTC member. “I think the vets really appreciate us being there and showing our support.”

The plaza, formerly called Fountain Square Plaza, was renamed in the veterans’ honor at last year’s ceremony.

The Army “certainly taught me how to make a bed,” said Hal Shanafield of the North Suburban Chapter of VietNow. The organization represents veterans who served from 1961 to the present.

Members of the American Legion, the Tri-State Vietnam Veterans Association, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Ladies Auxiliary to the VFW laid wreaths on a monument in the plaza.

“This city is loaded with veterans,” Price said. “There are more than 1 million veterans (in the United States) who are not in the Veterans’ administration. That’s a shame.”

Another veteran, Lloyd Idelman, 77, of Evanston, enlisted in 1945 and served in the Occupation Forces in Vienna, Austria.

“People say I was last to fight the Germans and the Japanese, and the first to fight the Russians,” he said. Idelman and his daughter, Andrea, have been attending veterans services since 1990.

Idelman glanced to the northern end of the plaza, where three pillars bear metal plaques with lists of Evanston residents killed in service since the Spanish-American War.

“Looking at the names gives you a deep feeling of respect,” he said.

Reach Daniella Cheslow at [email protected].