Tinley Clerk Rea lauded for his work at plaza dedication
By Mike Nolan email@example.com November 11, 2012 3:28PM
Tinley Park Village Clerk and retired Gen. Pat Rea listens to speeches at the dedication ceremony of Gen. Patrick E. Rea Veterans Plaza named in his honor at the 80th Avenue Metra station in Tinley Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 13, 2012 10:25AM
More than two decades ago, when he was a student at Andrew High School, David Waters set his sights on joining the U.S. Army.
A member of the elite Army Rangers, Waters is now a deputy brigade commander at the Army’s Fort Carson in Colorado. Previously, he was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
On Sunday, he was back in Tinley Park to help honor retired Army Brig. Gen. Pat Rea, someone Waters called “a friend and mentor.”
As part of the village’s Veterans Day ceremony, a new component of the 80th Avenue Metra station was dedicated as the Gen. Patrick E. Rea Veterans Plaza, part of a larger physical effort to commemorate the service of military personnel.
Rea, a former village trustee and current village clerk, spent 30 years in the military. In 1974, Rea established the village’s veterans commission, which was the first of its kind in the state.
Waters called Rea the “epitome of the citizen soldier,” and Rea received accolades from retired Army Maj. Gen. Emile Bataille, who had served under Rea and is a longtime friend.
“He was always encouraging me to reach beyond what I thought was possible,” Bataille said. “You were, and still are, an excellent role model for all military officers.”
The plaza is immediately north of a 300-foot-long “hometown heroes walk,” which also commemorates Tinley Park residents who’ve served in the military. Along Veterans Parkway, a street that leads to the plaza and train station, future memorials to the military are planned, Mayor Ed Zabrocki said.
An estimated 400 people attended the village’s Veterans Day ceremonies, which included the plaza dedication. In attendance were veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
“We remember and honor your sacrifices,” Zabrocki said, not just on Veterans Day “but throughout the year, and every day of our lives.”
There was a moment of silence for two Tinley Park residents who died in the line of duty — Army Staff Sgt. Michael Sutter, killed in Iraq on Dec. 26, 2003, and Marine Cpl. Kevin Clarke, killed in Iraq on Feb. 19, 2005.
Trustee David Seaman, a retired colonel with the Illinois Air National Guard, said the plaza “will forever memorialize the service the veterans have given.”
Military organizations in the community contributed to have benches installed at the plaza, with plaques denoting each group affixed above the benches. American Legion Post 615, Chapter 23 of the Korean War Veterans, Chapter 252 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Kevin Clarke Detachment of the Marine Corps League and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2791 paid to help get the benches installed.
In their remarks, Rea and Waters noted that Americans enjoy their freedom because of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the armed forces, and that maintaining a strong military is crucial to preserving that freedom.
“This republic exists ... because of the armed forces of the United States,” Rea said. “That’s what keeps that liberty.”
Waters said that although there “must be no doubt that war is an awful thing” and should “not be entered into lightly,” the country needs to be ready to go to battle when all other options have been exhausted.