ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. –
Amid record-breaking snowfall and cold temperatures, leaders from the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command set out to honor and tell the story of Veterans, past and present, by participating in Veterans’ Day observances across the Chicagoland area, November 11, 2019.
Brig. Gen. Kris A. Belanger, Commanding General, 85th USARSC spoke at the City of Chicago Veteran’s Day commemoration as the keynote speaker. She remarked on the four World War II-era Medal of Honor recipients, who served in the division she now commands and touched on the origins of the Army Reserve during World War I.
“More than 89,400 Soldiers of the Army Reserve, known then as the Officers’ Reserve Corp, fought in World War I,” said Belanger. “Then, as now, they served alongside their brothers from the ‘Regular Army’ and the ‘National Guard’.”
Belanger added only one percent of Americans serve in the U.S. military.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said “It’s our sacred obligation to deliver on the promises that our service members have earned. Our veterans risked their lives to serve us, so we must serve them.”
About 55 miles northwest of Chicago, Col. Daniel Jaquint, G-3 operations, 85th USARSC, spoke to students at Hampshire High School in Kane County. Throughout the entire school day, he toured each class and shared stories about his decades of experience as an Army artillery officer with the students and encouraged them to ask questions.
“I really thought it was one of the best presentations I have ever seen,” said junior, Brandon Moore. “He had some current knowledge because he is younger than the veterans that have come to my class. I really liked the story about him being lost in the desert.”
Jaquint talked about his experience when he was a new second lieutenant, serving as a forward observer during Operation Desert Storm.
“You are in front of everyone. They want you to see what the bad guys are doing and call in artillery strikes,” said Jaquint. “I couldn’t see. I didn’t know where I was going. It (was) completely black,” he said. “My driver didn’t want to drive.”
But Jaquint succeeded in his mission because the illumination rounds he requested confirmed that he was traveling in the right direction. And with this lesson, he told the students about trusting their instincts.
“If your gut says something isn’t right, it’s not right. When you are a leader you are responsible for the people under your command,” he said.
In the northern suburbs, 50 miles northeast of Hampshire, Lt. Col. Vickie Argueta, Equal Opportunity Adviser, 85th USARSC, was the guest speaker at Lake Forest High School during their annual Veteran’s Day commemoration with an estimated crowd of 500 to include students, veterans and residents.
“It was truly a privilege and a humbling opportunity to represent the command at an important event such as Veteran’s Day,” said Argueta. “It is a time where we honor all of our men and women who have served past and present and have sacrificed so much, even their lives. It’s also a time where we can thank the many Families of those that served and have also sacrificed. Overall, it was a memorable experience and the students truly did a wonderful job putting together the Veteran’s Day event.”
Lake Forest High School Principal, Dr. Chala Holland, said it is important for students to understand the sacrifices of everyone who went before them, people currently sacrificing and to honor and celebrate veterans.
“I’m very grateful for the partnership with the Army this year and our keynote speaker. I think her experience will resonate with a lot of our students who are possibly considering joining the military,” said Holland.
During the commemoration, retired Lt. Col. Robert T. Moorman, a former Air Force Pilot and squadron commander with 25 years of service, was honored as the “Community Hero of the Year”.
Expressing his personal belief about the state of the U.S. military, Moorman said “I think our troops today and all the services are the best ever. They are better trained and stronger than any other force worldwide.”
Near the end of the ceremony, winners of the yearly competition ‘What does Veterans Day mean to you?’ were announced.
“It’s been great. We started out asking for essays. Now they are submitting poems, paintings and all kinds of creative videos,” said Ed Geraghty, American Legion, who served as an Army Warrant Officer from 1967 until 1970. “We are very excited about our three winners today.”
“It was a beautiful event. We give great thanks to the lieutenant colonel and Dr. Holland for coordinating and making it all work.” said Tom Marks, a Vietnam veteran who served in the Navy Reserve.
Additionally, on the days leading to Veterans Day, the 85th USARSC color guard presented the Nation’s Colors at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois before the Chicago Wolves vs. Manitoba Moose hockey game at a military appreciation presentation there.
“The 85th (USARSC) color guard performance was terrific,” said Don Levin, owner of the Chicago Wolves, speaking about military appreciation weekend. “We have been doing this for twenty-some years. I came out of the Marines. Anything we can do for veterans and do with the military is great.”
The Chicago Bulls also hosted a veteran’s appreciation night where Soldiers participated in a half time contest with U.S. Army recruits. Additionally, the Bulls, in coordination with the USO, provided an opportunity for the 85th USARSC Soldiers and their Family members to watch the Chicago Bulls vs. Houston Rockets game on November 9, 2019.
“It was an incredibly wonderful opportunity to show gratitude for our veterans past and present,” said Belanger.