The village of Riverside will mark Memorial Day on Monday, May 27 with a pair of ceremonies, organized by Sons of the American Legion member and Riverside resident Tom Sisulak, honoring those who died in service of the nation.
At 10 a.m., community members are invited to the St. Mary Parish Center, 126 Herrick Road, for a formal program that will include a roll call of the 54 Riverside residents who died while serving the armed forces from World War I through the Vietnam War.
There will be musical performances by students from Riverside-Brookfield High School and St. Mary’s, a performance of “Taps” by Tom Day, founder of Bugles Across America, and a 21-gun salute.
Other organizations participating in the ceremony includes representatives from Riverside churches, scout troops, police and firefighters. There is free off-street parking in the parking lot behind the church and school, accessed by East Burlington Street.
Attendees can enjoy refreshments after the ceremony and have a look at a display of military items from the nation’s 20th-century conflicts.
While the ceremony honors all veterans, each year organizers select a local veteran for special recognition.
This year, the honored veteran is longtime former Riverside resident Richard Dolejs, who served overseas in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Dolejs, 90, grew up in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, attending Farragut High School and Wright Junior College before heading to Millikin University in Decatur. He was drafted into the Army in 1951 and trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
After basic training he received an additional eight months’ training, including Japanese language classes, in counter-intelligence operations at Fort Holabird in Baltimore. He was deployed overseas to Japan briefly before arriving in Busan, South Korea, where he assigned to security details and was involved in interrogating people who had crossed the front line.
“It wasn’t like James Bond,’ Dolejs said.
After the armistice, Dolejs returned to Japan, stationed at Camp Crawford in the city of Sapporo on the northernmost island of Hokkaido. He was discharged in early 1954 and got a job as an investigator for the Chicago Motor Club before getting into the insurance business and opening a family real estate office in the mid-1950s in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.
He lived in Riverside, living on Maplewood Road from 1960 to 2018, when he moved to his present home in Burr Ridge. He’s been a member of the American Legion for more than 50 years and is past commander of Riverside American Legion Post 488.
Separately, at 1 p.m., there will be a Memorial Day ceremony at the Gold Star Memorial in Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside, south of the Riverside train station.
That program will include a naval wreath ceremony honoring those killed in action and buried at sea and a flag ceremony.