Veterans Day is more than just a day of remembrance. Veterans Day encourages people to support and honor veterans throughout their daily lives. On Saturday, November 5, Lake County Parks and Recreation held a Veterans Day service at Stoney Run Park to honor the county’s veterans and urge the community to serve those who have served them.
At the service, several veterans came forward and spoke about the importance of Veterans Day and what remembrance and appreciation mean to those who have served. Hobart High School’s Wolfgang Choir sang several songs in honor of the different military branches, and a wreath was presented to honor all the lives that have been lost.
Robert Gerstenberg, chaplain and long-time volunteer, explained that services like these are incredibly important because they keep the memories of people alive. They encourage people to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of service and how it impacts people’s lives.
“I’m a second-generation veteran--my father was a veteran and my older brother is a Vietnam veteran. I think the worst thing that could happen to a soldier is for them to be forgotten, and when we don’t remember our veterans and the people who have served and died for us, it’s easy for our leaders to put more people in harm’s way and continue to forget about them. We just don’t want people to be forgotten. We want to make sure that all these people’s lives count,” said Gerstenberg.
For over 50 years, Lake County Parks and Rec as well as Lake County veterans and their families, have strived to make the Stoney Run memorial and honorable as possible to show appreciation to those who have served our country. The memorial and what it stands for are what make services like these so special.
“All of this was built by volunteers,” said Gerstenberg. “It was built by bricklayers and electricians and carpenters and just random volunteers in the community. Nobody got paid--the only thing we got out of it was the friendships and bonds we built with each other.”
What started as a simple Vietnam Veterans Memorial has been expanded into a beautiful multi-monument memorial honoring all veterans. Gerstenberg is proud of how much the memorial has grown and can’t wait to see how the memorial and Veterans Day services continue to grow in the future.
“I’m glad to see that after all these years our work is done and that I can come out here and enjoy it. I enjoy telling people about the memorial and talking to people about it. I enjoy coming out here and being with others. Sometimes, I like to just come out here by myself. It’s a beautiful place,” said Gerstenberg.
The service and memorial wouldn’t have been possible without the unyielding support of the community. It’s because of them that people can better appreciate everything that our veterans have done for our country.
“I would like to thank all my Memorial Committee members and all the people who have served with us. I’d like to thank all the people who have donated to our cause. Most of all, I’d like to thank the parks department--if it weren’t for their cooperation and support we wouldn’t have been able to do any of this,” said Gerstenberg.
To learn more about Lake County Parks and Recreation, visit lakecountyparks.com.