Middle school students swim in the pool. | Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer

Memorial Day, aka Decoration Day, began after the Civil War in the northern states as a time to remember fallen Union soldiers, and after World War I, it evolved into a day to remember veterans who had died in all of this country’s wars.

Next Monday, May 30 at 2 p.m., Joe Byrnes, commissioner and veteran, will emcee what has become the annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Park District of Forest Park.  The Forest Park Police Dept. color guard will post the colors, said Michael Thompson who organized the event. Fr. Stan Kuca will pray the invocation, and “a few words” will be said by Mayor Rory Hoskins. A taped version of the National Anthem and taps will be played.

Thompson said the commander of the Forest Park American Legion Post #414 will read the “The American Legion Preamble” which seems timely these days:

A pedestrian walks past the entrance to the American Legion Post 414 on June 1, on Circle Avenue in Forest Park. | Alexa Rogals/Staff Photographer

“For God and Country, we associate ourselves together for the following purposes: To uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States of America; to maintain law and order; to foster and perpetuate a 100-percent Americanism; to preserve the memories and incidents of our associations in all wars; to inculcate a sense of individual obligation to the community, state and nation; to combat the autocracy of both the classes and the masses; to make right the master of might; to promote peace and good will on Earth; to safeguard and transmit to posterity the principles of justice, freedom and democracy; to consecrate and sanctify our comradeship by our devotion to mutual helpfulness.”

What will make this year’s ceremony especially meaningful, Thompson added, is that U.S. Army Colonel Michael Chyterbok, who was born in Ukraine, will address the gathering and “give insight into the loss of life in that current conflict.”

In addition, members of the American Legion will place wreaths at the war memorials located at the Park District Administration Building, St. Bernardine, the corner of Thomas and Adams, and in the Forest Home Cemetery.

The Forest Park Public Library, according to its director, Pilar Shaker, will acknowledge the significance of Memorial Day in several ways:

• Adult Services will have a book display featuring titles that are thematically appropriate for Memorial Day 

• The Youth Services staff will have a pull-out collection that features age-appropriate titles that touch on relevant themes

• And the library staff is engaging its followers on social media, asking folks to send photos of friends, family, or other loved ones who have served, which will be posted in the Gallery

Memorial Day weekend is also the unofficial beginning of summer and the Park District marks that by opening the pool for the first time on Saturday, May 28.  

“We are excited,” said Executive Director Jackie Iovinelli, “and are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.”

You can also hop in the car and take a five-minute drive to Trailside Museum at 738 Thatcher Ave. in River Forest for the following programs:

• Nature Story Trail: “Ruby’s Birds,” May 28 at 9 a.m.

• Spring in the Prairie Walk, May 28 at 10:30 a.m.

• “Bone” Appetit, May 29 at 3 p.m.

Police Chief Ken Gross noted that May 15, 2022 to May 21, 2022 is National Police Week (https://nleomf.org/memorial/programs/national-police-week-2022/). “Two of our officers traveled to Washington DC for events there,” he said. Chief Gross and his wife provided food for all three shifts on May 18 in honor of National Police Week to acknowledge “the hard work that the members of the Forest Park Police Department regularly do.”