Westville

Honor guard bugler Robert Jarvis of Westville plays Taps Tuesday to the crowd gathered at the Veterans Day ceremony at Zamberletti Park in Westville.

Veterans were honored in Westville Tuesday with a ceremony in Zamberletti Park that included a multiple gun salute and a bugler playing Taps.

The Martin F. Vutrick American Legion Post 51 presented the ceremony with their honor guard made up of around 20 le-gion members.

Legion Commander George Schabowski said the ceremony is an important annual event that is always followed with a meal served by the auxiliary ladies.

“I think we just want to teach the younger generations to be proud of what you’ve got and to be proud of your freedoms,” said Schabowski. “Because there really are a lot who have sacrificed. Just remember.”

A good sized crowd attended the event in a cold drizzle, including nearly 200 students who walked to the war memorial area from Westville Junior High.

Eighth-grade American history teacher Stephanie Huchel said the students in her classes are in the midst of doing a large unit on the subject. She said it was a unique opportunity for the entire student body to attend it together.

“It makes them feel solid and unified to go as a group like this,” said Huchel. “They were shocked at the firing of the guns. Some of them were emotional.”

The teacher said it is often easy to lose sight of how wonderful we have it in America.

“We wanted to pay our respects,” said Huchel. “We were pretty humbled to be a part of it.”

Huchel said there are so many that have family members or friends serving in war now, it makes students much more aware.

“We have many citizens not coming back,” said Huchel.

Mel and Eleanor Holycross of Westville also attended the ceremony. They were happy to see the students attend. They also appreciated that traffic was stopped on Illinois Route I during the ceremony.

Mel Holycross, now a member of American Legion Post 51, joined the Merchant Marines in 1943 during World War II. His ships delivered troops and supplies to the military.

“They didn’t swim there, they had to go by ship,” Holycross said.

Ironically, Holycross was then drafted into the Army for two more years, because the government didn’t look at his time as a Merchant Marine as service. It wasn’t until 1988, under a law signed by President Ronald Reagan, that Merchant Marines who served during wartime were fully recognized as veterans.

Holycross ended up in Austria and Germany for those two drafted Army years.

“So I’ve seen the country, but I wouldn’t give a nickel to see it again,” said Holycross.

Holycross said there are ways to show veterans you care throughout the year, not just on Veteran’s Day.

He said one sure way to show interest and respect for veterans is to visit the Vermilion County War Museum at 307 N. Ver-milion Street in Danville.

“I just wish everybody in Westville and Danville could go to the war museum and take a tour,” said Holycross. “People don’t realize what all veterans have put up there.”

Another way to show respect to a veteran is to get his or her story.

“What the younger generation needs to do is to get with the older veterans and ask questions,” said Holycross. “Because when we’re gone, it goes with us.”

Holycross said that those interested in wars or the past should just “be nosy,” so they can gain information and then pass it on to another generation.

“Everybody has a story,” said Holycross. “You get a little piece here and a little piece there and then you have a picture.”

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