Leyden Township memorial wall honors veterans
Robert Johnsen (right) comes in to see his father's name, S1 Leroy Hubert Johnsen, as George Atkins and Greg Ignoffo continue the construction of a Veterans Memorial Wall at Leyden Township. | Dan Luedert~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:35AM
FRANKLIN PARK — No matter where or when they served, military veterans are connected by a unique bond.
They also now share a special place in Franklin Park.
Leyden Township is dedicating a Veterans Honor Wall at 2 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, to recognize and thank residents for their service.
Located in the township offices, 2501 Mannheim Road, the monument replaces a previously barren wall with the names of more than 400 male and female veterans of the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy.
The township began collecting names this past February. Some families have a handful of service members who have served throughout the years. Most honorees live in Leyden Township, but applications have come from across the country, Leyden Township Administrator Gregory Ignoffo said.
“If you put the uniform on,” Ignoffo said, “that’s good enough for me.”
He said the honor wall would be particularly meaningful for those who reside in Leyden Township’s unincorporated areas.
“It finally gives those veterans a place to be known,” he said.
Mike Warchol, a former longtime River Grove resident and Navy serviceman, will have his name listed on the Veterans Wall. So, too, will many of his 80 comrades from River Grove American Legion Post 335, where he serves as commander.
Warchol, of Bartlett, said veterans should be revered for serving, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The dedication ceremony will include a special tribute to seven local service members killed in action. Township officials will also unveil a granite monument to accompany the honor wall.
Franklin Park Police Officer Tom Henniger, a Marine veteran, will sing the official songs of the armed forces. Music will be performed by a student symphonic group from the Leyden Township High Schools led by Bryan Miller, the schools’ music department chairman and bands and orchestra director.
Miller is also a major with the Air Force Reserves, where he is commander and conductor of the 566th Air Force Band, the Air National Guard Band of the Midwest.
Norridge resident Frank Bottigliero, one of the event speakers, is pleased Leyden Township is recognizing its local service members.
Bottigliero, who served with U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, is the director of veterans affairs for both Norridge and Harwood Heights.
“It’s just beautiful,” he said of the Veterans Honor Wall.