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Park Ridge pays tribute on Veterans Day; students sing original song honoring those who served

Pioneer Press Newspapers - 11/14/2023

Nov. 14—Early on in this year's Park Ridge Veterans Day ceremony, John Dorow of the local American Legion post pointed to the war memorial in the city's Hodges Park, singling out one name.

"Mel Tierney," Dorow said. "He was 18 or 19 years old. He was killed early in World War I. He gave his life."

The post, the Mel Tierney American Legion Post 247, is named for him.

Nearly 100 people, including many Roosevelt Elementary School students and their parents, listened respectfully during the ceremony Saturday, with Dorow noting that the crisp fall weather meant the ceremony didn't have to move indoors, as it has in some past years.

John Prochaska, also a veteran with the post, read the names of local veterans who had died in the past year. They included Frank DePaul, Robert "Steve" Stavrakas, John Slowiak, Mike Rotondo and Bette Memmel.

"Those are the ones we know about," he said.

Dorow noted the group has lost 17 members since the start of COVID, though not necessarily due to COVID.

Two fellow veterans, Bob Mau and Nick Korompilas, live at The Sheridan at Park Ridge Assisted Living, he noted.

"And the rest of us are getting old too," he quipped.

Pastor Carol Hill of the Park Ridge Community Church provided an invocation, saying "We thank you for the brave men and women who said yes to protect the freedom of all."

Police Chief Bob Kampwirth placed a wreath at the base of the veterans memorial, and two veterans fired into the air in a rifle salute.

The Roosevelt school students sang a song co-composed by James McDunn, who teaches music at Lincoln Middle School in Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 and also directs the fourth and fifth grade choirs at Roosevelt. McDunn led the students in singing the lyrics, which talked about protecting America's freedoms. At the conclusion, individual students held up signs that together spelled out, "Thank you, veterans."

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