With our country fighting multiple wars on the other side of the world, Sunday’s 15th annual Memorial Day celebration in Kirkland was about showing our troops that they haven't been forgotten.
"It’s remembering that that didn't come for free, that somebody had to pay the ultimate price," says Eliot Bonilla, a Vietnam War veteran.
The celebration, which is the largest of its kind in northern Illinois, featured patriotic songs and ceremonies to celebrate what our soldiers have done for us. Event organizer and former Mayor Les Bellah said the event's success wasn't surprising.
"I've never seen a more patriotic town in my life. Everything is flag waving and patriotism and 'I love god, country and family' in this town, it’s unbelievable," Bellah said.
The celebration also took time out to remember the life of Joe McGuan, a Vietnam War veteran who recently passed away. His widow says Americans take a lot of what the soldiers do for granted.
"I think a lot of people see Memorial Day as just a day off work to work in the yard, to go boating, whatever, and I'm kind of funny about that," McGuan said.
However, to Bonilla, the celebration shows how much the country has changed since he served.
"The public has been great at welcoming back the soldiers. During our time, you almost had to sneak back into the country and just go back into your way of living," he says.
And for Renee McGuan, it was a time to remember a husband who loved his country.
"He was a true Marine, he loved the Marines, our country, and that's what this is all about," she said.
Kirkland also found a way for its younger generation to get involved in the ceremony.
Cub Scout Troop 26 performed a flag retirement ceremony. The troop collected used flags from throughout the community that needed to be retired and disposed of them in the proper manner. This year was the second year the troop has retired flags.