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The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

Published: Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 3:46 p.m. CST
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(DEBBIE BEHRENDS | dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Somonauk native and active-duty Marine Matt Heath leads a long line of veterans into the Somonauk High School gym on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 12.
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(DEBBIE BEHRENDS | dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
World War II Navy veteran John Sneider speaks to the audience assembled at the Chapel on the Green in Yorkville on Sunday, Nov. 11. Looking on are some of the other vets who spoke.
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(DEBBIE BEHRENDS | dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Visiting before the Somonauk observance on Monday, Nov. 12 were, from left, Matt Heath, 2012 Somonauk graduate; C.J. Goodin, 2012 Sandwich graduate; and Bill Bryson, who served as a Marine, 1952-55.
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(DEBBIE BEHRENDS | dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Sheridan American Legion member Randy Rosengren leads the color guard during the ceremony there.
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(DEBBIE BEHRENDS | dbehrends@shawmedia.com)
Just moments before the Veterans Day ceremony on Monday, Nov. 12, Kevin Hansel of Hansel's Custom Technologies, left, and Sheridan Police Chief Chuck Bergeron install the plaque at the Sheridan Veterans Memorial honoring the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
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(PHOTO PROVIDED)
James Launius of Morris, left, accepts the Sheridan Veterans Memorial raffle prize of two Colt 1911 .45ACP pistols from fundraising chairman and Sheridan Police Chief Chuck Bergeron. Launius bought the winning ticket at the Marseilles Freedom Run.

It has been said that a veteran is a person who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for an amount up to and including his or her life.

It’s the reason for Veterans Day. It’s a day to honor their sacrifice. And honor them area residents did with a variety of observances throughout the entire weekend of Friday, Nov. 9 through Monday, Nov. 12.

Among events were talks by veterans at the Chapel on the Green in Yorkville, the annual ceremony at Somonauk High School and a ceremony at Sheridan’s Veterans Memorial.

Ten vets, from World War II through the current conflict in the Middle East, spoke of their experiences. They saw places like Normandy, St. Lo, Bastogne and even Buchenwald. “It was not a pretty sight and one I’ll never forget,” said Robert Coleman.

“I brought home one relic, a pistol I sold for $15 so I could take my wife on our first date,” Coleman said.

Richard Missing, who served in the Merchant Marine, talked of being seasick all the way from New York to Scotland. When he returned to the states, he joined the Navy.

Jim Follmer served as an airplane mechanic and “eagerly went to work every morning. I loved every minute of it.”

Somonauk’s veterans being recognized numbered 45. “Every year we try to make this program grow. Last year we honored 36 veterans; this year we have 45,” said Somonauk American Legion member Alex Marshal.

Among the veterans recognized was Bill Bryson. Marshal shared a brief story about Bryson: “He joined the Army when he was only 16. They kicked him out, so being the stubborn guy he is, he joined the Marine Corps.”

Keynote speaker Roger Wiley, who served with the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, told two brief stories about military heroes – one man and one woman – illustrating that heroes are still serving the country.

In Sheridan, American Legion members from the local post carried the colors. A contingent from the Plano post provided a color guard and a rifle salute.

After remarks from James “J.D.” Allen and Al Rucker, memorial fundraising chair and Sheridan Police Chief Chuck Bergeron presented plaques to contributors to the memorial. Recognized for their generous contributions were Alex Quintanilla of Aztec Landscaping and Paving, Kevin Hansel of Hansel Custom Technology, Kori Elleby and Bud Lichtenhauer of Correct Electric, Arthur Johnson of Johnson Oil, Bob Diveley and Don Hayman.

“So many professional people donated labor, money and time and we just want to thank them on this day,” Bergeron said.

“I’m here because we have a debt of honor to pay. We need to remember all the veterans that came before us, and those who are with us now. And no matter what branch we have served in, anyone who has ever worn the uniform becomes a member of a brotherhood that never ends,” Hayman said.

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