Burr Ridge schools serves those who served
Sal Fatigato, (left), retired Air Force, talks with his grandson Patrick Fatigato at the breakfast for veterans at Gower Middle School. | Vincent D. Johnson~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 4:48PM
BURR RIDGE — There was no hero’s welcome waiting for many of the men and women who served their country in the 1960s.
Veteran Greg Mares said that made Friday’s Veterans Day Breakfast at Gower Middle School that much sweeter.
“The times have changed,” said Mares, who served in the Illinois National Guard from 1969 to 1975.
Mares, who attended the breakfast with his grandson, Jake Holous, said he is glad to see today’s veterans receive gratitude and respect for their service.
Gower Middle School students and faculty invited grandfathers, uncles and friends to be part of this year’s Veterans Day celebration, which in previous years involved a schoolwide assembly. Great American Bagel in Burr Ridge and Blueberry Hill in Darien provided food and drinks.
“I would like to personally thank all of you for serving in the military and for protecting us,” Student Council President Liam White told the morning’s guests of honor.
His remarks were followed by other Student Council members reading a proclamation, a patriotic poem and a quote about the sacrifices made by the 25 million veterans living today and the 650,000 who have died serving their country.
Frank Gainer, grandfather of fifth-grader Nick Ness, wore a sweatshirt bearing the name of the ship, the USS Blandy, on which he served from 1960 to 1963.
Unlike many of the veterans, Gainer shares stories of his Navy service with his grandson, who is quick to say he would not like to experience what his grandfather endured while protecting the country during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
“I don’t speak very much about my service,” said Salvatore Fatigato, grandfather of Gower student Patrick Fatigato and son of a World War II veteran.
Fatigato, who has attended Gower’s Veterans Day celebrations with his grandchildren every year since 2005, said he’s proud of his service with the U.S. Air Force, but he said veterans aren’t the only heroes in America.
“The real heroes are the folks who face big mortgages and family problems and keep on going. That’s what this country is all about,” he said.
Honorees not only received a hero’s welcome Friday, they also were sent off in style as the entire student body and faculty lined the hallways to cheer as the guests made their way toward the exit. The veterans then left to the sounds of the school band playing a patriotic tune.