Chester joined in with the rest of the nation this Memorial Day in saying thanks to the men and women who gave their lives to assure our freedom.
The service was hosted at the Chester VFW, with members of both the VFW and American Legion involved with the program, Dedicated "To the Fallen." Tony Payne, commander of VFW Post 3553, welcomed everyone to the service, after which Dr. Rev. Mike Fogerson, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chester, provided an Invocation.
Immediately following the invocation, Steve Colonel and the Chester High School Band played the national anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner." While the audience was still standing to attention and in silence, Commanders Payne and Jeff Warhausen, commander of American Legion Post 487, conducted the annual "Placement of a Wreath in Memory of Our Departed" ceremony. Each year, a patriotically decorated wreath is placed at the front of the stage in memory of the departed soldiers from all generations who died while in active duty protecting America. The wreath and ceremony also memorializes all other departed soldiers who served in the armed forces over the years.
Mayor Tom Page then took the podium to welcome everyone to the 2018 Memorial Day Service. He began by saying a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who stood during the national anthem.
He also recognized the Chester High School Band for providing appropriate music each year and noted that they were the 2018 State Champions of the IHSA Music Sweepstakes. Finally, Page recognized and thanked the Chester Boy Scouts for the American Flags they place throughout town each holiday and thanked all veterans who were in attendance.
Warhausen provided his meaningful Memorial Day thoughts as is customary each year and ended with a patriotic prayer appropriate for the occasion.
The CHS Band then performed "Armed Forces Medley," which featured the theme songs for each of the major branches of the service, including the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force.
As each theme song was being played, members of each of those branches were asked to stand and be recognized. This portion of the service is always very memorable, patriotic, sensitive and appreciated by those being recognized.
The 2018 Guest Speaker was Josh Barnett, commander of VFW District 14. Barnett was brief, but well prepared as he provided thoughts and viewpoints regarding Memorial Day. He received a round of applause for his contribution to the service.
Commanders Warhausen and Payne then conducted the annual "Roll Call of Departed Veterans," at which time they recognized the 27 local veterans who passed away since the last Memorial Day Service.
The departed veterans included Lawrence "Gene" Baughman, Edward Bendorf, Jr., Omer Berndt, R.L. Congleton, William L. Dericks, David Van Ducker, Arnold Feaman, W.R. Fricke, Lester Gerlach, Kenneth J. Grott, Charles "Jack" Hargis, Larry L. Hartman, Wayne E. Hepp, Louis Karr, Lex A. Kilgore, Slim Klothe, Manley Limbaugh, Dean Lochhead, Sherman Martin, Armin Montroy, Francis Montroy, Robert Pierce, Wayne Ramsey, Dale E. Rickenberg, Raymond G. Rosendohl, Dewey F. Wilfong, and George F. Winterberg.
Immediately following the roll call, the combined VFW and American Legion honor guards conducted the annual "Salute to Our Departed Veterans" ceremony with a 21-gun salute. Mitchell Colonel and Zachary Zappa from the Chester High School Band then played TAPS as everyone stood to attention.
To close the official portion of the program, Dr. Rev. Mike Fogerson gave a patriotic Benediction. In closing, Fogerson asked everyone to join him in reciting the "Lord's Prayer." The CHS Band performed "America the Beautiful" as a Postlude as everyone adjourned.
Immediately following the program, the VFW invited everyone in attendance to stay for a luncheon which included sloppy joes, hot dogs, baked beans, chips, relishes and drinks. Those who participated in the luncheon were most pleased with and thankful for the delicious meal and fantastic hospitality of the V.F.W. personnel.