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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Independence Day Weekend Memories


Fourth of July Weekend 2021 seems as though it were eons ago. Yet, the weekend that celebrated many good things about this community is still vivid in our minds.

Hosted Friday and Saturday at Rotary Hill, the inaugural Naperville Salute attracted folks to get together again, many seeing each other for the first time during a flu season that certainly continues to overstay its welcome. Local cover bands and other live entertainment were featured both evenings. On July 3, a family kids event put together by Becca Willey created a special time for youngsters to meet exotic reptiles, have their faces painted, play games and learn about public safety.

The three-day benefit hosted by Naperville Responds for Veterans, complete with Independence Day fireworks at Frontier Park, is captured in photos featured at www.napervillesalute.org.

Grateful for its 2-day inaugural run at Rotary Hill along the Riverwalk, the Naperville Salute plans to return in 2022 to heighten awareness about Naperville Responds for Veterans.

During the City Council meeting on July 20, Salute Chair Michele Clemen and NRFV President Dan Jurjovec expressed gratitude to the City for all its assistance and to everyone on the long list who had a hand in creating the event with public safety top of mind.

“We’re looking forward to another great event next year,” Clemen said.

Reminiscing about Independence Day festivities turned our attention to John Adams, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Massachusetts. In a letter written on July 3, 1776, to his wife Abigail, Adams described his dreams for future Independence Days, mindful of the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Adams wrote, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

The following day, July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress. Yet, this seminal document for our nation was not signed, for most part, until Aug. 2, 1776. Since those founding days, Americans have continued to celebrate Independence Day with family outings, parades, pageants, patriotic music by the Naperville Municipal Band and a day that ends with fireworks.

In a year of lockdowns, most Americans acknowledge just how important it is to be reasonable and respectful by recognizing that we are all created equal. We all value choices. We all have unalienable rights, including Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Independence Day at Riverwalk Grand Pavilion 

The Grand Pavilion is located at the west end of the Riverwalk, just past Centennial Beach and the Jaycees Playground, before the path winds toward the Jefferson Avenue Bridge.

Welcoming everyone under the sun to the Riverwalk Grand Pavilion at 9AM July 4, Kevin Coyne kicked off the second annual Fourth of July “Honoring Our Heroes,” thanking everyone who has served in the U.S. military.

“Today’s holiday is about the freedoms which you have helped protect,” said Coyne.

“A huge thank you to anyone in our medical community – especially doctors and nurses that have served on the front lines of the COVID pandemic…. to our local firefighters and emergency personnel – particularly those that helped residents impacted by the terrible tornado we just endured…”

Coyne continued with more appreciation. “The Naperville police department is also second to none. Naperville police have played a huge role in Naperville regularly being one of the safest communities in America.

“Today’s event is hosted by Safe Suburbs USA an organization started roughly two years ago and carries the goal of promoting and supporting those that protect us. We promote public safety legislation and causes. We celebrate law enforcement and those elected officials that stand up for law enforcement, for first responders, and for public safety.”

After Coyne’s welcome, The National Anthem was sung by Chad Pedigo and “God Bless America” was performed on bagpipes by Colin Gavin.

A long list of guest speakers included co-host Lisa Gangi, Lisle Mayor Chris Pecak, Judge Mike Riedy, Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, Naperville City Council members Paul Leong and Patty Gustin, Naperville Park Commissioner Rich Janor, Judge Kavita Athanikar, Judge Liam Brennan, Indian Community Outreach Chair Krishna Bansal, SECA Commissioner Vasavi Chakka, Naperville Building Review Board member Anees Rahman, Naperville Salute Chair Michele Clemen and Naperville Community Leader Marty Walker.

Krishna Bansal and Kevin Coyne

Naperville resident Krishna Bansal stood as a first-generation immigrant to express his love for the American spirit, the visionary fathers who came up with all the ideas, and the “amazing Law Enforcement officers to enforce the law, keep us safe while we prosper. Our first responders are the best.”

“I was born in India and have extensively traveled around the world,” said Bansal. “I can say this with 100 percent, no 1,000 percent confidence. There is no nation that comes anywhere close to USA. In fact, everyone wants to immigrate here. This nation welcomes all regardless of their origin, race, color or religion. I will quote President Reagan once again, ‘This is the only country that adopts you and you become American.’”

DuPage County Board member from District 3, Greg Hart, who has represented parts of southeast Naperville since 2017, presented his undying belief that America is an exceptional country where anything is possible.

“My wife is the first generation American in her family,” Hart said. “She would not be in my life had her grandparents not risked everything by gathering the collective $20 dollars in their pockets, leaving their small villages in Greece, buying the lowest fare ticket they could get to sail to Halifax, Canada, and then moving their Canadian-born kids to America.”

Hart continued, “When they arrived, they spoke no English, could not read any alphabet except Greek, and made ends meet by working in fast food restaurants to support their family. … They eventually saved up enough money to open their own restaurant…and then they bought their own home…and then they finally attained what they describe as the single greatest gift from God they ever received aside from their children – and that was their American citizenship.”

Story after story emphasized gratitude to the men and women of the United States military, the men and women of our police departments, and the men and women of our fire departments who serve and protect us every day.

“Public safety is Naperville’s hallmark,” said Coyne, as he was beginning to wrap up a fast-moving 90-minute event with brief breakouts for conversation. “We should take great comfort knowing we have elected officials and community leaders that stand with their police and for public safety.”

Coyne noted that Safe Suburbs USA is featured on Facebook and at www.safesuburbsusa.com.

“We’ll certainly be doing our Independence Day Kickoff again next year,” added Coyne. “Everyone is welcome to be involved.”

Meanwhile, think about advice from Crime Stoppers. ”Keeping our community safe is everyone’s responsibility.”


PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.