Veterans Day was commemorated inside the Rialto Square Theatre Monday, a unique setting for Will County’s annual ceremony.
The ceremony for years has been held outside the Will County Courthouse, an area that has become a construction zone as a new courthouse is built.
The movement of the event indoors coincided with a record-cold Veterans Day in which temperatures were in the 20s, winds were blowing, and snow was falling for much of the morning.
“A lot of people would not have been able to stand in the cold and wind and snow,” said Daniel Ciszek, a senior vice commander for Disabled American Veterans Chapter 103 Will County.
Ciszek, a Marine who served in the Vietnam War, was among several veterans at the ceremony honored for their efforts in organizing Veterans Day ceremonies in past years.
He talked briefly afterwards about the importance of the day.
“We have Memorial Day to respect those who didn’t make it back, who didn’t come home,” Ciszek said. “It’s important for us to recognize veterans, whether they were in harm’s way or not, for the sacrifices they made.”
The same idea was expressed in the opening invocation of the ceremony by Rev. Larry Ellis, an Army veteran.
“We honor you today, veterans and all those who wear the uniform,” Ellis said. “We honor you veterans for your service and your sacrifice.”
The ceremony on the Rialto stage included music by the American Legion Band and the Joliet Police and Fire Department Pipes and Drums.
Several speakers commented on the history of Veterans Day, the contributions veterans have made to the country, and services available to local veterans.
“We want to get a message to our veterans that it is a strength to ask for help,” said Joliet police Lt. Moises Avila as he described the Joliet Police Department Battle Buddy Program. Police officers with backgrounds as veterans volunteer to help fellow veterans.
“We don’t want to leave any of our veterans, who may be in need for help in our community, behind,” said Avila, a Marine veteran.
Before the event, tables were set up in the Rialto rotunda providing information about services, an added feature to the event as it was moved indoors.
The ceremony concluded with a march out of the Rialto where a rifle salute was conducted on a closed-off Chicago Street.
The ceremony was organized by the Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County and the City of Joliet.