Fellowship and patriotism were the themes of the day during Grayslake Salutes Our Military. The event was a way to pay tribute to current and retired military members from any war. The event, held on an unseasonably warm Jan. 8, brought out families, community leaders, politicians and teenagers.
Several veterans said they were humbled and grateful to be recognized for their service.
"I think this event is incredible and a little overwhelming," said Army veteran Frank White. He was drafted in 1970 and retired in 1997, spending time in Vietnam, Europe and throughout the U.S.
"It is remarkable that people would put forth this much effort into recognizing all the veterans," White said. "I didn't expect anything. And I don't regret a day of my military service. It gave me a way to see the world. I got tremendous benefits from my service. But many veterans did not get a warm reception when they returned home. So the fact that people here are going out of their way to say thanks is tremendous."
He was one of several veterans of all ages, of all wars and foreign conflicts, who were recognized during the Grayslake Salutes Our Military event.
It was held between the and the . There was live music, food provided by local restaurants, and crafts for the kids.
Joyce Campbell, founder and president of The Oasis, said she wanted to give a big, warm welcome home to all veterans, whenever they served.
"It was wonderful to welcome home our active military and veterans today," Campbell said. "I am proud to live in a community that cares and understands that freedom has never been free. We entertained and thanked veterans from WWII all the way to those serving today. My favorite part was getting to hug and welcome home the Vietnam Veterans since it was a long time coming. There were dozens of volunteers involved today along with a number of local restaurants. My sincere thanks to everyone who put this together with me."
Christina Freese, 17, and Jasmine Bains, 17, both students at Grayslake North High School, welcomed people to The Oasis. There was live music performed by the teenage band Slam Funk and the slightly-older-than-teenage band Svelte Bobby. The Voice of Veterans band performed at the Grayslake Heritage Center.
Speakers at the event included Campbell, Mayor Rhett Taylor, State Rep. Sandy Cole, County Board Member Melinda Bush and Ret. Col. Paul Ahern on behalf of thr American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
"You can never say thank you to the veterans enough," said Taylor, at the beginning of the event. "You can't thank them enough for all that they sacrificed."
Oasis board member and District 127 Superintendent Catherine Finger said she was thrilled to help organize the event for the military. "We owe them a debt of gratitude," Finger said.
Read more on Patch: