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Veterans honored in Riverwalk ceremony

Wednesday’s event also marked the 15th anniversary of the dedication of Chicago’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Army Color Guard present colors during a ceremony by The Wolves and the Arlington Heights-based 85th Support Command to honor veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Chicago Riverwalk.
Army Color Guard present colors during a ceremony by The Wolves and the Arlington Heights-based 85th Support Command to honor veterans at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Chicago Riverwalk.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

As a Chicago fireboat sprayed a ceremonial water salute across the Chicago River, representatives from the Chicago Wolves hockey team were joined by the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command in a wreath-laying ceremony Wednesday at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

The morning ceremony on the Riverwalk also marked the 15th anniversary of the memorial’s dedication.

About two dozen people, including many active and reserve service personnel, were on hand. Three members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War huddled together for an annual remembrance, then left as the ceremony began.

The Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and Coast Guard Great Lakes each had boats stationed nearby.

Chicago Wolves senior executive vice president Wayne Messmer opened the event by singing the National Anthem, as he often does at Wolves games.

Members of an Army color guard unfurl a U.S. Army Flag during a ceremony on the Chicago Riverwalk in the Loop, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.
Color guard members unfurl a U.S. Army flag during Wednesday’s Veterans Day ceremony on the Chicago Riverwalk.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Brigadier Gen. Ernest Litynski and retired Marine Corps Brigadier Gen. Roger R. Machut both spoke at the ceremony.

“If I cry, it’s usually twice a year — either Veterans Day or Memorial Day,” Litynsk said as he began his speech before choking back tears when acknowledging the sacrifices of the estimated 20 million American veterans.

“When you join our profession of arms, you take an oath to do something greater than a job. It’s important that we acknowledge the personal sacrifices that members of the military and their families make,” he said.

Attendees bow their heads in prayer during a Veterans Day ceremony on the Chicago Riverwalk in the Loop, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020.
Attendees bow their heads in prayer during a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday on the Chicago Riverwalk in the Loop,
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Litynsk also hinted at a growing partnership between the Army Reserve and the Wolves later down the line.

“We want to further solidify community respect for veterans, but most importantly we want to show folks in the community what it means to be a citizen-solider or veteran,” added Litynsk.

Messmer said it has always been important to the team to support those who serve in the military.

“The Wolves do quite a bit to honor the military during our season, so it was an easy choice to work with the Army Reserve and the city to make this happen,” he said.

You can watch the entire ceremony here.