Veterans in DeKalb County led by example this past weekend, as they braved the cold for 24 hours to stand guard over a special memorial at the county courthouse.
Over 100 flags flew high at the annual 24-hour veteran vigil in Sycamore, where veterans took turns standing vigil despite freezing temperatures.
“Veterans, in general, are just used to deprivation and doing what it takes to get the job done,” said Dwain Adkins, coordinator.
Ronald Slavenas, who stood guard during the vigil, said, “It’s a spiritual experience. It’s about appreciation for our country, and for the military that, at times in history, has been overlooked.”
For Slavenas, the event has become an annual tradition. This year marks his fourth year taking part. He says that, while he does it for all veterans, he especially wants to honor America’s fallen heroes.
“I happen to have lost a son in Iraq,” Slavenas said. “He was a chopper pilot. He was shot down when he was piloting his CH47 Chinook helicopter. Sixteen others were killed in that tragedy.”
Adkins says he wants to make sure veteran contributions to the country’s security are not forgotten.
“There’s a tremendous amount of camaraderie,” he said. “We tell stories and share experiences, and so forth.”
Adkins marched around the flags throughout his entire shift. He hopes residents who passed by appreciate the sacrifices veterans have made and continue to make.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to make their community better than they found it. This is one way we do that,” Adkins said.
The group is looking for volunteers to help them round up all of the flags. The effort begins Tuesday at 2 p.m.