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Friday, April 12, 2024

Naperville Responds hosts annual Strength and Honor Lunch to honor Veterans


Above / Table settings included copies of iconic patriotic posters such as Rosie the Riveter from World War II. (Photos courtesy James Hoch Photography)

World War II poster shows cannons, each with the flag of an allied power, blasting into the sky. Throughout the event space, table decorations included World War II messages from 25 different posters, all reminiscent of the Greatest Generation.

Thirteen years ago, Naperville Responds for Veterans hosted its first breakfast at the Judd Kendall VFW Post 3873. Spearheaded by Navy Veteran Jack Persin, Pat Bowler, and dozens of folks from the building trades and local real estate industry, the large community group in attendance was introduced to the hopes and dreams of Naperville Responds, a vision that included providing home improvement services to Veterans in need or in crisis.

Within a short time, the stated mission became “to assist Veterans and their families in need, especially those with low and moderate income, by raising donations of money, building materials, and professional labor, and coordinating the process of repairing, building, and donating homes.” 

Ever since, in addition to managing projects to fulfill its mission every year—even during the pandemic— the nonprofit organization with an all-volunteer board of directors and generous sponsors has recognized Veterans as their honored guests at breakfasts or luncheons, said NRFV President Dan Jurjovec, noting the luncheon event paused in the spring of 2020 and 2021.

The 2022 Strength and Honor Lunch, held on April 26 at Bobak’s Signature Events in Woodridge, provided a special tribute to World War II Veterans, featuring old-fashioned melodies and patriotic songs performed in harmony by the Chorus of DuPage.

Chorus of DuPage performed a medley of American armed service songs during NRFV Strength and Honor Lunch.

The program celebrated the life of Tuskegee Airman Melvin Copeland as presented with fond memories by his cousin, Loraine Shoto, who also showed a video about the can-do community spirit of the World War II hero and Elgin teacher who died at age 96 on June 25, 2021.

Images were projected on large screens to help tell the story of American hero Melvin Copeland. 

Guest speaker Kathy Kincanon Nosek presented her family story, as featured in a collection of family mementos and her parents’ love letters written during World War II. Nosek calls the 667-page book she wrote about her parents, My Darling, 99 Love Letters, a “labor of love.”

Nosek noted that the U.S. government had taken 6,654 Gold Star pilgrims, including her great grandmother, to visit their sons’ and husbands’ graves in American cemeteries in Belgium, England, and France.
“Naperville Responds For Veterans went above and beyond in creating this event this year,” emailed photographer Jim Hoch, when he sent a link to his photos. “Each one is bigger and better and the attendance continues to grow—over 500 attendees today!!!”
Hoch continued, “The presentations were riveting and the camaraderie on display was amazing. I love taking pictures at these events!”
Photos from the luncheon are available via James Hoch Photography at Naperville-Responds-Strength-Honor.
For more information about Naperville Responds for Veterans, its programs, fundraising initiatives and upcoming events such as 2022 Naperville Salute, visit www.napervilleresponds.org.
One more thing… At the conclusion of the Strength and Honor Lunch, Jurjovec noted a new street banner program being initiated by the City of Naperville to honor Veterans. He urged Veterans to participate in the program expected up by Memorial Day. Click here for details. The new program aims to be ongoing.
Last Updated / April 27, 2022

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PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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