Hundreds of people gathered in Woodstock for a patriotic celebration in honor of military veterans Nov. 5.
The second annual event, dubbed Patriot Day by Woodstock Harley-Davidson, 2235 S. Eastwood Drive, which hosted the celebration and remembrance, was a precursor to the Nov. 11 Veterans Day holiday.
“[Woodstock Harley-Davidson owner] Doug Jackson always says, ‘Every day is Veterans Day at Woodstock Harley-Davidson,’” said Timothy J. Crabb, U.S. Marine corporal, Vietnam War veteran and designer of a veterans memorial that sits at the dealership.
Approximately 300 people attended the event, which honored veterans’ sacrifices and saluted the American flag.
“U.S. allies across the world, in every corner of the world, recognize the American flag not simply as an image of the United States of America, but as a symbol of freedom,” Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager said.
“We are called to recognize something greater than us as an individual,” Sager continued. “…[Veterans have] served with honor and distinction, sometimes giving the ultimate gift.”
That sacrifice was recognized Nov. 5 as Crabb read the names of those whose bricks are in the Gold Star section of the memorial, where fallen U.S. military members are memorialized. U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Derek Wolford tolled the bell after each name was called.
“All of us have a responsibility to answer the beguiling call of freedom … to stand together… [As we look at the] blue sky of eternity, more than country and national identity, [the flag is] the symbol of freedom,” Sager said. “We must stand together and realize that it is only together that we can stand to support this great cause of freedom and this great call to service.”
A band from Marian Central Catholic High School performed under the direction of music teacher Tom Rome, accompanying Rolling Thunder Illinois Chapter II member Patricia Theis in “God Bless America,” “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Amazing Grace.”
“We were proud and honored to be a part of this celebration. I think it’s important for the students to see an event like this and to be an integral part of it made it that much more meaningful,” Rome said in a statement.
The monument draws people from miles away. Lisa Marschall rode her motorcycle to Woodstock from Rockford.
“I have a brick for my father here – Dale Marschall. … His ashes are in Wisconsin, and I am so thankful for this place – somewhere to go, someplace to touch and someplace to feel him,” Marschall said.
Crabb agreed, saying, “It is important to continue to honor our veterans so that younger generations know and learn and understand what these veterans did to protect the freedom we have in America. This memorial honors our veterans every day – not just on Veterans Day.”