As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Park Commissioner Joe Byrnes could stand on either side of the podium this weekend when the village Park District renames the stadium on Harrison Street.
On Saturday, Veterans’ Day, Byrnes will give a speech as the village honors the men and women who have served in the armed forces. The Park District will officially designate the multipurpose athletic field as Veterans’ Stadium. The dedication will take place at noon.
“For years our veterans do a lot for the community and a lot of times they don’t get recognition,” Byrnes said. “I don’t think they get enough recognition for what they do and are still doing for the community.”
The field, which is used primarily for soccer but is also used for many other activities, opened in May of 2004.
About one year ago former park commissioner Greg Kolinek brought up the idea of naming the field to honor veterans. The war in Iraq and the almost daily news of military causalities reminded the park board of the sacrifices made by soldiers every year, the district’s Executive Director Dave Novak said. Park board members unanimously agreed to name the field in honor of the nation’s veterans, Novak said.
“The Board of Park Commissioners believes that a nation that honors its veterans is one dedicated to the preservation of freedom,” Novak said.
The park district will spend $4,500 to place two plaques at the field. The plaques will read “Veterans Stadium, In Honor of the Armed Forces of the United States. Dedicated Veterans’ Day November 11, 2006.”
Board President Howard Boy served in the Army from 1955 to 1956 and is the commander of Forest Park Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7181. Boy said he hopes the name of the field will help all the people who use it to appreciate the sacrifices veterans have made throughout the nation’s history.
“It’s going to be dedicated to all veterans,” Boy said.
Members of both VFW Post 7181 and American Legion Post 414 will help present the colors. Neil Scarpelli is the commander of American Legion Post 414, which shares a building with the local VFW post.
During World War II Scarpelli served as a gunner’s mate in the Navy in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He saw action at Anzio, the invasion of the south of France, Okinawa, and the Philippines. Scarpelli said he is gratified by the park board’s decision to name the field in honor of veterans.
“We appreciate it and we’re very happy about it,” Scarpelli said. “Perhaps it will bring back memories of people who sacrificed and dedicated their lives to the preservation of freedom of America.”
Prior to the ceremony at the park the veterans will hold their annual Veterans’ Day remembrance at 11 a.m. in the tot-lot at the corner of Adams and Thomas streets. This event occurs, as always, at the 11th hour or the 11th day of the 11th month.