Hundreds gather for Beach Park Memorial Day Service

Boy Scouts raising the colors at the Village of Beach Park annual Memorial Day service. – Tina Johansson photos

by Tina Johansson

People flocked to Founders Park Monday, some with blankets and lawn chairs in tow, to remember those who lost their lives fighting for our country, and to recognize veterans still with us today.

In the small town of Beach Park, big hearts were apparent and wide-open arms were present in the patriotic song and solemn reading of the Gold Star Honor Roll with each name sounded by the ring of a brass bell.

Trustee Regina Miller, emceed the event.


Beginning the ceremony was an invocation by Steve Brown, pastor of Beach Community Church. This gave way for Boy Scout Troops 66,616,663, and 673 to raise the colors of old glory high up on a flag pole.

Dressed in red, students from Beach Park Middle School’s Symphonic Band directed by band leader Jennifer Grabot, played several songs including the starting number, and a forever loved one, The Star Spangled Banner.

Viking Park Singers from Gurnee shared the tent with the young musicians. The singers, all adults, performed patriotic pieces and toe-tapping tunes.

Michael Mercure, a deacon from Our Lady of Humility Church in Beach Park, spoke about The Meaning of Memorial Day, and added some history about the holiday which was originally called “Decoration Day.”

Kathlene Penich-Garross and her husband Mike Garross of Winthrop Harbor read off seven names on the Gold Star Honor Roll. The military fatalities were local young men, including one of their own. Kathlene’s son John Penich, an Army infantryman and member of the Viper Company, was killed in combat while serving in Afghanistan in 2008.

Retired Army Master Sergeant Richard McFarlin was dapper in his three-decade-old olive drab uniform that he dusted off to wear especially for the event. McFarlin, 75, was joined by his wife Hannelore. Together they placed the wreath at the flags, ending with a touching salute by Mr. McFarlin.

Another salute followed, this one, a 21 gun salute by the Naval Station Great Lakes Rifle Honor Detail.

Joseph Bragado of Boy Scout Troop 66 performed Taps.

Patriotic art contest winners from Our Lady of Humility School were named:

6th grade – Kaeli Y. Halley, 1st place; Dilyn C. Hayhurst, 2nd place; Tyler Bransky, 3rd place. Honorable mentions went to Gabriel Sanchez, Christopher Cochrane and Emily Christianson.

7th grade – Dasha Linna, 1st place.

8th grade – Emily Brockway, 1st place.

After the service, a gazebo dedication near South Pond took place led by Trustee Richard Gust.


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