The large organized membership of the Veterans of Lake Barrington Shores always host a meaningful program honoring those who lost their lives in service to our country on Memorial Day. This year, as in the past, the emphasis of the day was remembering and honoring the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in order for all of us citizens to live in freedom.
The large well-attended program starts with a free luncheon provided by the Veterans of LBS for all guests. Residents of the Lake Barrington Shores community are joined by friends and family to this annual program they open to the public.
Music has always helped set the tone for their events each year. The Crystal Lake Community Band played Patriotic Songs and the Armed Forces Salute in support of the program as they have in years past. In addition, Veteran of LBS member and bagpiper Paul McHugh led the Parade and Retreat of Colors and a beautiful version of Amazing Grace.
LCDR David Raclow, US Navy, made opening remarks and prompted the Pledge of Allegiance before the Invocation from Reverend Judith Heinrich of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. Lake Barrington Shores Home Owners Association President John Hathaway addressed the crowd complimenting the Veterans of LBS for all that they do for the community.
Raclaw then introduced the 2017 Memorial Day keynote speaker, his brother Col. Robert P. Raclaw, Marine Corps (Retired). The Raclaw brothers are two of six brothers who all served in branches of the United States Military.
Col. Raclaw gave a moving speech about the commitment military service personnel give to the United States and our obligation to make sure the government holds up their end of the bargain, and as citizens what we can do to help.
“Twenty military veterans will end their own life today, and twenty tomorrow, and the day after that,” Col Robert Raclaw shared.
Col. Raclaw shared that the staggering numbers of veterans ending their own lives can be helped by intervention. He called on everyone to look for the signs of distress and to advocate for help for veterans they know, who may be at risk. Whether it is increased dependency on drugs or alcohol or changes in behavior, it is important that they find the resources they need.
Col. Robert P. Raclaw was awarded the Purple Heart (twice), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal. He enlisted in the military in 1964 where he served in infantry units in Camp Pendleton, California, Okinawa and the Republic of Vietnam before attending Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a Marine 2nd Lieutenant in 1971. He became an Army Ranger and completed assignments including Battalion Commander of the 1st Battalion, 24th Marines and Chief of Staff of the 4th Marine Division before retiring in 2003.
LCDR David Raclow presented his brother with a plaque from the Veterans of LBS in gratitude for his support of the 2017 Memorial Day program.
Each year the Veterans of Lake Barrington Shores host a Wreath presentation as part of the program to honor members of their organization who have passed away over the past year. Ronald Wisniewski, US Army, led the Wreath presentation bringing family members of James Ebbinghaus, US Air Force Korea, Edward Kason, US Army Korea & James Mantice, Army World War II up to the monument to assist him in the placement of the wreath.
The Marine Rifle Guard MACG-48 assisted the Veterans once again this year with the Rifle Salute.
The Veterans of Lake Barrington Shores always host military traditions at their Patriotic Ceremonies. The Folding of the Flag takes place and is set at the base of The Battlefield Cross display, a symbolic representation of a cross on a battlefield where a soldier has been killed, and finally The Empty Table set for one in honor of comrades who made the supreme sacrifice for our country.
In addition to the Memorial Day program, the Veterans of LBS also dedicated their New Memorial Garden featuring a new limestone five-sided base representing the Pentagon of United States forces. Ron Wisniewski, John Schaller, Randy Rigby, David Raclaw & Al Winchester all took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Veterans of Lake Barrington Shores holds programs, events and volunteer collections for the troops in addition to traditional military holidays.