Lisle veterans to share their memories of service

  • Andy Yender, a charter member of Lisle's VFW post, will take part in the village's Memorial Day Parade and share his experiences in World War II in a discussion Thursday, May 27.

    Andy Yender, a charter member of Lisle's VFW post, will take part in the village's Memorial Day Parade and share his experiences in World War II in a discussion Thursday, May 27. Daily Herald file photo

Published: 5/27/2010 12:03 AM

Memorial Day focuses on remembering.

On the federal holiday, millions of people across the country honor and remember those who died defending the United States and its values. Many people will take time over the long weekend to visit family burial plots to remember loved ones.

The first thing to remember is to fly the American flag. Old Glory is our proud tribute to freedom. It honors those who serve and those who died while serving in the armed forces.

As a community, Lisle will pay its respect to war heroes, followed by an old-fashioned community picnic. On Monday, the Memorial Day Parade and Remembrance Ceremony will step off at 11 a.m. from Lisle Junior High School, 5207 Center Ave., and proceed west to Main Street, then north to School Street in the heart of downtown Lisle. There, the parade turns right to Spencer Avenue, south to Burlington Avenue and east to the Lisle village hall.

A bunting-decked float will transport some veterans, including Andy Yender, a charter member of Lisle's VFW post, while another 30 to 40 veterans and active military members march. Spectators are encouraged to wave flags in a show of appreciation.

To make sure there are plenty of flags, Lisle village board members and Mayor Joseph Broda will distribute more than 500 small ones at the beginning of the parade.

Among the parade units are roughly 250 members of Rolling Thunder, who ride motorcycles as a tribute to American war heroes.

Spectators will find plenty of free parking in the commuter parking lots, which are just a short walk from many points to watch the parade.

At the village hall, a brief ceremony will include a Remembrance Table. Traditionally, the table is set with a white tablecloth, a black napkin and a candle. An empty chair signifies those missing in action.

Next, the parade continues from the village hall to Lisle Cemetery on the 900 block of Ogden Avenue. There, a representative from Lisle's Ross Bishop VFW Post 5696 will lay a wreath and the stirring sound of taps will pay tribute to veterans. More than 40 veterans lay at rest in the small cemetery, which is one of the oldest registered cemeteries in DuPage County. VFW members mark each with an American flag for Memorial Day.

Following these solemn ceremonies, the public is invited to the Museums of Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., for an old-fashioned community picnic that offers free food and plenty of camaraderie. Last year, roughly 1,000 people enjoyed the event.

"All the food items are donated," said Village Administrative Secretary Donna Sitts, who oversees the event. "Volunteers do all our cooking, and the Lisle Teens With Character will help out."

The park showcases the heritage and culture of life in Lisle in the late 19th century when it was an agricultural community. The museums also preserve the community's rich railroad history when the village was known as Lisle Station. The museum buildings will open for visitors.

Lisle Boy Scout Troop 108 will have a proper flag retirement ceremony for those who wish to dispose of any worn or frayed American flags. Old flags left at the VFW post by Sunday, May 30, will be included. It is a time-honored ceremony to show respect.

Leading up to Memorial Day, veterans from the Lisle VFW post will talk about their personal memories in the armed forces at 6:30 p.m. today at the Museums of Lisle Station Park. The program, sponsored by Lisle Park District, is free.

Quartermaster Steve Wandtke will share his experiences as an Air Force aircraft mechanic in Vietnam. He'll be joined by Dennis Lovick, who served as a ranger in Vietnam. Yender, a lifelong Lisle resident, will tell his memories of World War II and his service in the Army Air Corps on Okinawa.

Retired Maj. William Wallace will share his experiences flying for the Air Force in Desert Storm. VFW Post Commander Mike Bogmenko, a current lieutenant colonel in the Army in the active reserves, will speak on the War on Terror.

The firsthand accounts willing veterans share is an important part of America's history. Their stories are a legacy to the bravery of military personnel who fought for our country.

To remember men and women in active service, the Lisle-based Illinois chapter of Operation Support Our Troops sends care packages to military personnel stationed in harm's way. As a chapter of a national organization, the not-for-profit group sends food, toiletries, reading materials and thank-you notes written by area residents.

The group's popular fundraiser, "Rockin' for the Troops" starring Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band, is planned for July 17 in Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Go to for details.

• Joan Broz writes about Lisle. E-mail her at