A Salute to Women Veterans


Young men and women in sharp military uniforms marched through the heart of Bronzeville on Veterans Day, twirling batons, blowing trumpets, and beating on drums and cymbals in perfect line formation, led by the shouted commands of their school drill sergeants.

The marchers were cadets of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) from the Chicago Public Schools, parading through the community as they held their school banners all the way from 43rd Street and King Drive.

They marched to the Victory Monument at 35th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, marking the 84th annual Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony on November 11, 2010, a date that commemorates the end of World War I in 1918.

Marine Math & Science Academy, won first place for being the best marching band in this year's Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

This year was different from previous ones, because the day was dedicated to the women as well as the men who gallantly served in the US military. The event was hosted by the Chicago Defender Charities and the historic George L. Giles American Legion Post #87 as a salute to unsung heroic women veterans, who served “with distinction during every war and conflict with honor and valor,” according to the host of the ceremony, Col. Eugene F. Scott (ret.), president of the Defender Charities.

“We are not only going to talk about how we support our female soldiers. We’re going to demonstrate it today by designating LTC Kim Harrell, director of the CPS JROTC, to be our keynote speaker. We must get serious about how we treat our women in the military,” declared Scott.

Scott added that presentation of the JROTC cadet units by Corps Commander Cadet BG Delores Santillion was also a sign demonstrating their support of women in the military. Scott said that this year’s event was the largest that the Chicago Defenders Charities have had over the years of having the parade in the Bronzeville community.

There are 45 JROTC programs in the Chicago Public Schools with over 11,000 cadets, making them the largest program in the nation, according to Harrell. The mission of the JROTC is to motivate young people to be better citizens, Harrell said. Cadets’ participation in recognizing our nation’s veterans “is central to that mission.”

“You are part of something positive,” Harrell said to the cadets. “So I ask you to continue to always be a part of something positive. Americans can thank veterans by taking full advantage of all your rights that they’ve defended.”

Keynote speaker Lt. Col. Kim Harrell, director of the Chicago Public Schools' JROTC speaking at the 84th Annual Veterans Day Parade in the Bronzeville community on November 11, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

Then Harrell encouraged the young cadets to vote in every election, to write letters to the editors of their local newspapers, and to volunteer their time for a worthy cause, or to mentor a child, as well as to fulfill their jury duty.

“Before you know it, you will be an adult,” she declared. “Represent your country well, while abroad, and make sure you’re registered, and yes, at least consider serving your nation in uniform. Most of all, make sure you graduate and continue on with your post-secondary options. Live your lives and be good Americans that all veterans will be proud to know that they’re sacrifices were not in vain. This is the thanks that Americans can give.”

While the peace did not last after World War I, Harrell explained to the audience that this date gained recognition throughout the rest of the world. Originally the date was marked as “Armistice Day.”

But when the losses mounted in the many wars that followed, the name was changed to “Veterans Day” in the US to allow all servicemen and women from all wars to be honored.

In Canada as in the United Kingdom, Harrell said that November 11 is called “A Remembrance Day.” In each country, the day is usually marked with parades such as this, ceremonies and speeches, and a moment of silence for the slain veterans.

“You already know the value and significance of Veterans Day. And that’s not just about celebrating the day for old folks,” Harrell said.

“President John F. Kennedy once said that ‘A nation reveals itself, not only by the people it produces. But, also by the people it honors. The people, it remembers.’”

Harrell added that twenty-million plus veterans walk among us, and on this day, “our nation salutes them all.”

Some of the invited guests who also spoke briefly at the event included members of several of the City’s veteran organizations as well as a few elected officials and dignitaries. French Consul General Graham Paul, representing the nation’s allies in World Wars I and II, spoke about why it was important to remember veterans.

Other dignitaries in attendance at the parade and ceremony included Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell (3) and Bob Fioretti (2), an official from Germany who didn’t give a speech, and three of the candidates for the 2011 Chicago Mayoral elections. Former US Ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun, US Rep. Danny K. Davis, and William “Doc” Walls.

Then, Col. Scott’s wife, Beverly A. Reed-Scott, also read a poem she wrote honoring the veterans, titled “They Will Have among Them Many,” in the fashion of the old spiritual hymn, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Afterwards, all school JROTC units were recognized and awards were given to the top three marching school bands. This year’s first place winners were Marine Math & Science Academy, second place winners were Chicago Vocational High School, and third place winners were Rickover Naval Academy.

A Dignitary and Chicago Mayoral Candidates Take on the Day

Residents’ Journal spoke to the French Consul General as well as all three mayoral contenders after the event to find out more about why they were there.

“Because during the first World War there were some units combating in the French Forces coming from America, that’s why I’m here today,” he said.

Former Ambassador Braun, also a former US Senator from Illinois, said she was there to commemorate the service of the people in the Armed Forces and the youth, who she said were carrying on a “very noble tradition in presenting in the best way the highest values of our country.”

Chicago mayoral candidate, former U. S. Ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun, talking to Residents' Journal about her participation in the Veterans Day Parade in the Bronzeville community on November 11, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

“My grandfather served in World War I,” Braun said. “That’s what this memorial commemorates. And I was able in his honor, to work on creating the Bronzeville Military Academy. So, I’m just pleased to be with the people who do this good work.”

Congressman Davis said he was in attendance because he is a “big fan” of the federal military-sponsored ROTC programs. And he thinks the programs are “so great” because he said they assist young people with a certain level of discipline.

U. S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), another candidate for the 2011 Chicago Mayoral Election, during an interview with Residents' Journal after the Veterans Day Parade in the Bronzveille community on November 11, 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

“They need to understand that discipline does not necessarily mean that you’re being controlled,” Davis said. “But that if you are disciplined, in pursuit of whatever it is that you are attempting to do, the chances are much greater that you are going to be successful….and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are promoting war. I’m also a great promoter of peace, and being involved in every kind of peace initiatives that I can think of. But I do believe that being disciplined is one of the real ingredients needed for a well-rounded and successful life. And I commend these programs for helping young people to internalize and understand that.”

William "Doc" Walls, another Chicago Mayoral candidate, talking to Residents' Journal about why he attended the Veterans Day event in the Bronzeville community on November 2010. Photo by Mary C. Johns

Walls, an activist in the low-income communities and elsewhere, said he was basically there to support veterans and their affairs.

“I am a candidate for Mayor of the City of Chicago, and take advantage of every opportunity to say hello to the citizens, particularly those who have served this country well and those who may some day serve this country. There’s a good mix of youth and senior citizens out here today, and people in between. Chicago’s a wonderful place, it’s a wonderful day, and it’s a great occasion,” he said.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Categories: Homepage Uncategorized