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NEWS | May 29, 2024

Army Reserve officer and local residents honor fallen heroes at Memorial Day service

By Staff Sgt. Erika Whitaker 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command

U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Brian Dunn, Public Affairs Officer, 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, participated as the keynote speaker for the Village of Norridge’s Memorial Day ceremony, May 26, 2024.

The ceremony, now in its 31st year, honored fallen servicemembers and acknowledged current and former Norridge residents who served in the military.

“Memorial Day is a day of national recognition to honor the military men and women who gave their lives in defense of our nation and its values,” said Dunn.

Dunn explained how Memorial Day’s original traditions continue today.

“First observed after the Civil War, Memorial Day was initially called ‘Decoration Day’ because families gathered to remember their loved ones by decorating gravesites with flowers or flags,” he said. “This tradition continues across America today. Every Memorial Day, the Soldiers from the Third U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, place small American flags at every grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery and at the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery.”

Dunn also praised Gold Star Families who lost a servicemember(s) during their service to the country.

“We are humbled by your sacrifice, inspired by your resilience and grateful for your continued service to your communities,” Dunn expressed.

Great Lakes Naval Base recruits along with U.S. Marine Reserve and Army Reserve Soldiers participated in the observance, which included a procession of the United States’ 50 state flags, a 21-gun salute and wreath laying at the village’s Veteran’s Memorial Wall.

The ceremony’s community growth was also highlighted by the village’s highest-ranking official.

“I have been a trustee and now (village) president for the last 13 years, and this is a great event,” said Daniel Tannhauser, Village of Norridge President.

“Every year, I go to Wisconsin with my family, and then I come back for this event. Norridge’s celebration just gets bigger and bigger, which is great for all the veterans.”

The day gave Army Reserve Soldiers the opportunity to reflect on servicemembers who died for the nation as well.

“Memorial Day is special to everybody who serves when you think about Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country,” said Staff Sgt. Bridgette Kidd, Platoon Sergeant, 484th Army Band. “We’re all in uniform supporting our country and remembering and honoring them. It’s a great honor for us.”

“It’s very awe striking to see how everyone from different walks of life and branches of the military come together to honor servicemembers for Memorial Day,” said Staff Sgt. Omar Lozano, Bassoonist, 484th Army Band. “Servicemembers teach the younger generations about the sacrifices our forefathers made, remembering most importantly, the people who did not come home.”

A young attendee there also shared his perspective on Memorial Day’s significance.

“Memorial Day is special to me because it gives me time to spend with my grandpa and know how much he is appreciated for what he did,” said Matthew Sullivan, grandson to Dennis Sass, Norridge resident and retired U.S. Navy veteran. “I’m very proud of him for what he accomplished, the respect he’s given and how he still helps with the Memorial Day celebration.”

Veterans praised both the observance and the impact of Norridge’s celebration.

“I’m the commander of American Legion Post 1263, and it’s our dedication to honor our fallen heroes,” said John Lapo, Army Combat Engineer, Demolition Expert with the 173rd Airborne Brigade during the Vietnam War. “I just want to thank everyone who honors our fallen veterans.”

One local resident, and police officer, shared his thoughts on the ceremony over the last two decades.

“In the 22 years that I have been with the Norridge Police Department, I have seen how the people in the village enjoy everything about the ceremony, especially when the military comes and when the Navy brings the 50 flags,” said Sgt. Vaughn Watts, Norridge Police Officer and Marine Corps veteran. “It’s an understated ceremony because it’s only an hour, but you get a lot of knowledge from it.”

Dunn’s speech also touched on the upcoming eightieth anniversary of D-Day’s Battle of Normandy.

“On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy,” said Dunn. “The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.”

Today’s D-Day recognition had a special meaning for Dunn whose grandfather, now retired Army Col. Herbert Dow, served as a B-17 bomber pilot during World War II.

“I’m feeling a wave of emotions today,” Dunn shared. “I do think about my grandfather’s contribution to World War II and beyond, as well as the new naval recruits at the village hall, along with the war veterans and veterans who have left the service. But it does start with how my grandfather’s service carried into my personal story of military service.”

Lastly, Dunn expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to honor our fallen heroes.

“The Village of Norridge put together a spectacular commemoration for Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “It was special not just for veterans, but also families and servicemembers. I’m just very honored and grateful to have been asked to speak at the ceremony and be part of this commemoration.”