For the first time since 2019, residents of Riverside are being invited to gather in person under one roof to mark Memorial Day.
A staple of spring for more than a decade, Riverside’s community Memorial Day program was a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021. But organizers intend to bring the solemn ceremony back indoors on Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m. at the St. Paul VI Parish Center on the St. Mary Church/School campus, 97 Herrick Road in Riverside.
“The main purpose and philosophy for the Memorial Day program is to remember and honor the ‘Riverside 54’ soldiers who were killed in action defending America’s freedoms,” said Riverside resident Tom Sisulak, who was the man most responsible for kick-starting a new Memorial Day tradition back in 2009.
A central feature of the ceremony includes a reading of all 54 names of Riverside’s fallen. Among those participating in the ceremony are local veterans, representatives from Riverside churches, scouting organizations, schools, emergency personnel and Riverside American Legion Post #488 and its Sons of the American Legion auxiliary.
The Memorial Day ceremony also typically recognizes an honored local veteran. In 2022, that honor goes to Riverside resident Greg Saganich, a veteran of both the U.S. Army and U.S Air Force, who served overseas tours of duty in Egypt, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Saganich retired from the military in 2008 after 28 years of service and continues to serve as an auxiliary police officer in Riverside.
A separate, brief Memorial Day ceremony will also be held at 1 p.m. at the Gold Star Memorial in Guthrie Park, across the street from the Riverside train station, 90 Bloomingbank Road.
At that ceremony, a wreath will be placed in the Desplaines River as a remembrance of Riversiders killed and buried at sea during the nation’s 20th century conflicts. The names of all of the fallen from World War I through Vietnam are displayed on plaques mounted on boulders, which form a ring around the flagpole at Guthrie Park.