Veterans Day 2023: Events around Chicago area honor service members

We have a list of other veterans' events happening in our area today

Saturday, November 11, 2023
Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony held at Soldier Field
Events around Chicago honored veterans of the United States military Saturday, including the Commemoration Ceremony at Soldier Field.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Saturday is Veterans Day, which is a time to honor former service members of the United States military.

Chicago proudly honored the men and women of the military at its annual Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony at Soldier Field.

"We came back from Vietnam, but we struggled through it," veteran Carlos Saladino said.

The struggles of many veterans who served in wars and conflicts were acknowledged by a grateful city.

"On Veterans Day, and every day, I hope you know our immense gratitude and appreciation is ongoing," Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, along with other politicians, dignitaries and military officials, were also in attendance for the event.

The ceremony brought together members of each branch of the United States military.

Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day celebrates U.S. military veterans while commemorating the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918.

Army veteran Andrew Brown attended the ceremony dressed in the traditional garb of the "Buffalo Soldiers," a group of proud African-American calvary troops who served.

"It's great. It's great to recognized. So many don't," Brown said.

Retired U.S. Navy Admiral Cecil Haney delivered the keynote address, highlighting the sacrifices of all service members. Immigrant service members and female veterans were also specifically honored.

"The good thing about being acknowledged... the men are acknowledging us," said retired U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Ginny Narsete, who is the founder of Operation HerStory. "That's really unusual."

A traditional wreath laying and a rendition of taps brought the celebration to a close, but the joy many of the military members feel for their honor of service continues.

"My dad was in the military," Vietnam veteran Charles Padilla said. "His dad was in the military, and me and my brothers all went in the military. That was my commitment to my father and to the country."

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Other events around the Chicago area Saturday continued the well-deserved celebration of our nation's heroes.

The Black McDonalds Operators Association is honoring veterans with a turkey giveaway at five McDonald's locations in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

A gospel choir led worship next to a McDonald's on South Halsted in Chicago Heights, lifting spirits and sharing the gift of a Thanksgiving meal.

"I think it's sheer joy. I think it's delight that there is help. I think it's relief in knowing you're not going to struggle for where that meal is going to come from," said Rochelle Tandy with the Black McDonald's Operators Association.

The Black McDonald's Operators Association hosted the final day of its 23rd 'Food for the Body and Spirit' giveaway, providing hundreds of families and veterans in need today with all the ingredients for the gift of a Thanksgiving meal.

Derrick Lot moves and grooves to the music this morning. He's also the owner and operator of the McDonald's hosting this generous giveaway.

"African American communities are impacted a lot so being able to give back to our communities that's what the BMOA stands for," said Lot.

Community members like Army veteran James Bozek said they are filled with gratitude.

"I think this is great. For him to give out the turkeys today, people need it all over. Veterans. Everybody needs turkey," said Bozek.

Just over the past week, more than 2,000 turkeys have been given out by the Black McDonald's Operators Association at other locations across Chicagoland and northwest Indiana.

"It means a lot. With the times we are living in right now, it's kind of hard so it helps a lot. I'm cooking thanksgiving for my children so this is going to help," said Maple Nance.

It provides turkeys, sides and more for families and veterans in need this season.

And on this Veteran's Day, those who show proof of military service will be treated to VIP service to receive a free holiday meal pack.

President Joe Biden spoke at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

Other Veterans Day events happening Saturday in the Chicagoland area:

Aurora Veterans Day Parade

The city of Aurora is paying tribute to veterans with a special ceremony and parade Saturday. The parade steps off at 10:15 a.m. at the corner of Benton and Broadway. The procession heads north on Broadway to Downer Place before heading west and ending in front of the G.A.R. Memorial Hall, 23 E. Downer Place. Then at 11 a.m. veterans organizations will hold a military rifle aalute, marking the exact time the armistice was signed to end World War I.

Chicago Veterans Day Ceremony

Mayor Brandon Johnson and the city of Chicago will honor local and national veterans who have proudly served the United States during this year's Veterans Day Commemoration Ceremony. It will be held at 11 a.m. at Soldier Field's United Club. The program will include an honor guard, live music from the Navy Band Great Lakes. Retired U.S. Admiral Cecil D. Haney will deliver the keynote address.

Orland Park Veterans Day

The Village of Orland Park is hosting its annual Veterans Day Ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Orland-Palos Rebber-Tesmond VFW Memorial Post 2604. There will be an Honor Guard's Rifle Volley, a customary tradition in which three volleys of shots are fired in honor of deceased veterans.

Ray Olley Statue Unveiling

A special dedication and unveiling of a statue honoring World War II veteran Ray Olley takes place from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at A.N. Webber Inc, 2150 S. Rt. 45/52 in Kankakee. The life-sized statue is 6 feet tall. The statue will also include Olley's ships mascot Elinore who was tragically lost at sea during the battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.