The Exchange Club of Naperville hosted its annual “One Nation Under God” Breakfast Saturday morning in the Pavilion at Meson Sabika, featuring keynote speaker Allen Lynch, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.
After opening remarks by Pete Rocush, Chairman of the Americanism Committee, the patriotic tributes continued under the leadership of Dawn Portner, President of the Exchange Club of Naperville, along with a presentation of the Colors by members of the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873.
Neuqua Valley High School student Elena Nicholson led the Pledge of Allegiance, Nicki Anderson engaged the audience in singing the National Anthem and Kevin Dolan provided the invocation.
“The Abraham Lincoln Award” was presented to Mayor A. George Pradel by Scot Warren, followed by a reading of the Gettysburg Address by Janet Jacobs.
In his inimitable proud and enthusiastic style, Naperville’s 40th mayor, now in his fifth term, expressed his appreciation to the entire community for contributing to the city’s success.
“Thank you for loving America and for loving Naperville,” Pradel said.
Three “American Spirit Awards” were presented to businesses and individuals who continually make a difference in the community. On behalf of Tim Belgio and the entire staff at Belgio’s Catering, Tom Belgio accepted an award from Sandy Southworth who recognized his company for its active participation in many community fundraising events. Whether partnering to provide the Friday Night Fish Fry at the VFW during Lent, furnishing breakfast at the 360 Youth Services Spring Ahead 5K at CityGate Centre or helping with the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast at the 95th Street YMCA, Belgio’s is known around Naperville for its community service throughout the year.
Ethan Koska was recognized by Kevin Dolan for his Eagle Scout project, a honor garden at Neuqua Valley High School that pays tribute to NVHS alumni who have answered the call to serve their country.
“Ethan exemplifies the true meaning of the American Spirit Award,” said Dolan in his introduction with high accolades for the soon-to-be Eagle Scout.
As a fine example of a veteran still serving, Wayne Fischer, who served with the U.S. Marines during the Vietnam era, received the American Spirit Award for his never-ending contributions to help other veterans as well as programs at the American Legion Post 43 and VFW Post 3873.
Six “Proudly We Hail” Awards were presented by Pete Rocush and Frank Mallinder to individuals and organizations that properly display the American flag. During the breakfast, images of the six flags set in their award-winning locations were shown on a large screen. Rocush recognized photographer Jim Hoch for taking the pictures at night, showing how the flags are illuminated.
Recipients of the Proudly We Hail Awards were Pam and Mike Cooper, Naper Settlement, Marcy and Phil Maughan, Ann and Hayden Heath, Sandy and Scott Holley, and the Naperville campus of Northern Illinois University.
After an introduction by Marty Walker and a video that documented the heroic achievements of Allen Lynch who served in the Army in Vietnam, the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient addressed the audience of some 130 attendees. Lynch highlighted the name of the breakfast, “One Nation Under God,” as the theme for his talk. With thoughtful observation, Lynch expressed his strong opinions about the importance of learning the Constitution of the United States of America.
Citing the Preamble as well as the First Amendment, Lynch noted that the Founding Fathers made a distinction regarding the guarantee of basic freedoms that put rights—God-given rights— in higher power, unlike the kings and queens of Europe empowered by government rule.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
“When government gives rights, government can take them away,” Lynch said, as he focused on the many blessings of individual liberty that set this nation apart from others.
During closing remarks, Portner recognized with appreciation all veterans in attendance for their dedication to protect freedom. After the Colors were retired, World War II Army veteran Michael Wohead, age 96, was introduced to Lynch.
For more information about Lynch, search “Allen J. Lynch.” The A.J. Lynch Foundation aimed at “veterans helping veterans help themselves” is available at ajlynchfoundation.org. For info about the foundation’s upcoming D-Day Tribute fundraiser on June 6, see the flyer online.
For more info about the Exchange Club of Naperville and its many levels of service to the community, visit www.exchangeclub.org. Exchange Club membership is open to any individual who accepts their goals to serve others. Meetings are held the first and third Friday of the month, starting with registration at 11:45AM and lunch served at noon. Meetings are held at Hugo’s Frog House & Fish House in Main Street Promenade.
FYI: James Hoch Photography Gallery of Photos from the One Nation Under God Breakfast.
Another tribute to honor veterans April 10
Lynch will return to Naperville on Thurs., April 10, as the featured speaker for the Naperville Responds for Our Veterans “Strength and Honor” Breakfast at Cress Creek Country Club. The event begins at 7:30AM. For information about limited tickets available, check www.NRFOV.org.