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Dekker: Veterans Memorial dedicated to Tinley’s ‘native son’

Tinley Park resident Kurt Dekker looks Coast Guard memorial stone new Brig. Gen. Patrick E. ReVeterans PlazTinley Park. | Supplied

Tinley Park resident Kurt Dekker looks at the Coast Guard memorial stone at the new Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea Veterans Plaza in Tinley Park. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: December 12, 2012 6:09AM



Today across America, people are pausing to remember and honor the service of our veterans.

Here in Tinley Park, we will do the same, but with a special addition. Today, we will dedicate the village’s new Veterans Plaza to a native son, retired Brig. Gen. Patrick E. Rea. The Veterans Plaza is adjacent to the new 80th Avenue train station.

With flags, memorial stones and personalized paver bricks, the plaza will honor our hometown veterans from all five branches of the armed forces.

This memorial will serve as a physical reminder to all who see it of the selfless dedication to our nation given by these brave men and women.

I always am humbled when I think of the people who are willing to fight for the freedoms we all enjoy. I also am very grateful.

President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Armistice Day for Nov. 11, 1919, to mark the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. Major hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

On June 1, 1954, through an act of Congress, “Armistice” was replaced with “Veterans,” and the observance has been known as Veterans Day ever since.

I always have been impressed by Tinley Park’s respect and recognition of our veterans. They are remembered not just today, but all year. Our VFW Post, American Legion and Veterans Commission provide many kinds of support and services for veterans and their families.

Rea has been a strong advocate of veterans throughout his long military and government career, and is credited with creating our village’s Veterans Commission in 1974.

During his 30-year military career, which began with deployment to Vietnam in 1963, Rea has served throughout the United States, Asia and Europe, commanding at every level from platoon to brigade. Rea also received the 2004 Secretary of Defense Medal of Outstanding Public Service.

Rea’s years of service to Tinley Park run just as long. He became a village commissioner in 1968 while serving actively in the Army and in the Reserves. Rea became a village trustee in 1971, and village clerk in 2009. With more than four decades of service to our village and country, Rea is, indeed, a fitting representative of Tinley Park and its veterans.

The Veterans Day ceremony and dedication start at 10 a.m. Sunday. If you can’t attend, I hope you can visit Memorial Plaza, and be sure to thank a vet today.

Thanks, Dad!

Help for ‘Toy Box’

I’ll now switch holidays, jumping ahead to Christmas.

The Toy Box Connection, a children’s nonprofit that collects new and used toys and gives them to children in need, is looking for volunteers to help with its annual gift-wrapping fundraiser. TBC again will set up inside Orland Square Mall to wrap gifts. For a donation, they will wrap Christmas purchases.

Gift wrapping will be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. for the 10 days before Christmas. Those who would like to volunteer should call Michelle Maxia at (708) 691-2715.

For more information about Toy Box Connection Children’s Charity, visit www.toyboxconnection.com.

Black Friday event

If you are one of the die-hard “Black Friday” shoppers who gets to the stores before sunup, you might want to take advantage of Step Up Dance Academy’s Black Friday Sleepover. You can drop off children at 9 p.m. Nov. 22, and they can stay overnight for a fun-filled “lock-in.”

There will be plenty of activities to keep them busy, including arts, crafts and movies. Snacks, breakfast and lunch also will be provided. There will be security on duty throughout, and children can be picked up Friday.

For complete details, visit www.stepupdanceacademy.webs.com or call (708) 633-7837. Step Up Dance Academy is at 17030 S. Oak Park Ave., Tinley Park.



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