Pols, others gather to remember sacrifices of nation’s veterans

Beneath drizzly, leaden skies, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Pat Quinn and a host of other dignitaries remembered the sacrifices of American veterans Tuesday at Soldier Field.

“To all veterans and veterans’ families, you’ll never be far from our thoughts, you’ll never be far from our hearts, but you’ll always be in our prayers,” Emanuel told the crowd of several hundred people at the city’s official Veterans Day ceremony.

Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner also attended the ceremony but did not address the crowd.

Quinn, who left the event without talking to Rauner, touted his efforts to provide services for returning vets — but said one day isn’t enough to remember those who have sacrificed so much.

“We need to make every day Veterans Day, to honor all of those who answered the call to duty, who volunteered … and (to those who say), ‘Here I am, take me,’ and went into very dangerous places to defend our democracy,” Quinn told the crowd.

Ald. Jim Balcer (11th), the keynote speaker, perhaps drew the loudest applause. Balcer, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, is set to retire after 17 years on the City Council.

“We have to keep remembering,” Balcer said of Veterans Day. “We must never forget.”

After Tuesday’s event, a swarm of media followed Rauner, who shook hands with servicemen, thanking them for their service. Rauner repeatedly refused to answer questions about whether he’d exchanged words with Quinn since the end of their hard-fought, bitter campaign.

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