Belleville

Veterans Day speaker: ‘Just say, ‘thank you’’

Belleville Veterans Day ceremony

Dan Joergensen, who served in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, praised youths who honored veterans on Friday. His remarks came during the 18th Annual Belleville Veterans Day ceremony on the Public Square.
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Dan Joergensen, who served in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, praised youths who honored veterans on Friday. His remarks came during the 18th Annual Belleville Veterans Day ceremony on the Public Square.

Dan Joergensen of Belleville served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1960s and on Friday said he was impressed to see the public’s support for veterans during the 18th Annual Belleville Veterans Day ceremony on the Public Square.

“It’s always inspiring to see the public recognize veterans and especially kids, you just don’t see that every day,” said the 74-year-old Joergensen. “It was really nice to be here.”

Schoolchildren from throughout the city were invited to participate in a Veterans Day poster and essay contest and the three first-place winners in the essay contest read their essays during Friday’s ceremony.

It’s always inspiring to see the public recognize veterans and especially kids, you just don’t see that every day.

Belleville veteran Dan Joergensen

“Their words were well thought out,” Joergensen said.

Brig. Gen. Lenny J. Richoux, vice commander of the 18th Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony and urged the crowd to show their appreciation to veterans when they encounter them.

Richoux told the crowd to warmly greet a veteran wearing a hat proclaiming the branch they served in or the war in which they served.

“When you see these people, all I ask you to do is from this day forward just stop, whether you’re in the airport or at the mall or the park or at the Y or at church, just say, ‘Thank you,’” Richoux said.

Brig. Gen. Lenny J. Richoux of Scott Air Force Base speaks during the Belleville Veterans Day ceremony Friday. He urged everyone to thank those who have served our country, while others at the Public Square ceremony asked others to thank first res

“I just want to say thank you for missing birthdays, for missing the anniversaries, missing Christmas.”

Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay who served as master of ceremonies for the event, and Mayor Mark Eckert noted that 10 years ago this week, on Nov. 10, 2006, then-Sgt. Jon Brough of the Belleville Police Department was shot in his face while trying to enter a home where a double-murder suspect was hiding. Brough, now 58, lost both of his eyes in the shooting and has since endured 32 surgical procedures.

“I ask us all to keep our first responders in your thought and prayers each day because they put themselves on the line locally,” Eckert said.

The city’s proclamation issued Monday for Brough honored him for his “courage and resilient spirit,” Clay said.

Members of law enforcement and the military services are kindred spirits.

Belleville Police Chief Bill Clay

“Sgt. Brough not only survived the horrific assault but he and his devoted wife Wendy and family are thriving and I, too, want you to keep them in your thoughts on this day,” Clay said.

While Brough was not a member of the military, Clay said veterans often serve as police officers after they complete their military duty.

“Members of law enforcement and the military services are kindred spirits,” Clay said.

“They exchange their warrior role for the guardian role to continue their defense and protection of their nation from all enemies foreign and domestic,” Clay said of veterans serving as police officers. “So in these challenging and dangerous times for law enforcement, please remember that your next encounter with a law enforcement officer may well be that of a veteran or citizen soldier actively serving in the Guard or Reserve.”

2016 Belleville Veterans Day poster and essay contest winners

Here are results in the poster contest:

  • Kindergarten to second-grade:
  • First: Bryleigh Thurnau, second-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School
  • Second: Myonna Mister, second-grader at Franklin Elementary School
  • Third- to fifth-grade:
  • First: Ramiya Young-Fowler, third-grader at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
  • Second: Demyra Anderson, fourth-grader at Douglas Elementary School
  • Sixth- to eighth grade:
  • First: Taiya Lewis, seventh-grader at Central Junior High School
  • Second: Jarrett Calvin, seventh-grader at West Junior High School

Here are results in the essay contest:

  • Kindergarten to second-grade:
  • First: Ta’khiyrah Traylor, second-grader at Henry Raab Elementary School
  • Second: Jaydn Devore, second-grader at Franklin Elementary School
  • Third- to fifth-grade:
  • First: Colin Wiltsie, fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School
  • Second: Mia Jones, fourth-grader at Westhaven Elementary School
  • Sixth- to eighth grade:
  • First: Shalina Austin, eighth-grader at West Junior High School
  • Second: Casey Burress, eighth-grader at Central Junior High School
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