By Carrie Steinweg
LANSING, Ill. (May 17, 2022) – Lansing is a community that shows great effort in recognizing and remembering its military heroes. The American Legion is named for Edward Schultz, who served during World War I. Memorial Junior High remembers those who lost their life in World War II. The Lansing Veterans Memorial honors those lost in all wars. Banners hang from light poles to shine a spotlight on those who have served. Members of the community have held events, planted trees, hung plaques, and showed their respect in numerous other ways.
One group within the community that has worked to honor those who have sacrificed to serve is the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard, which began three decades ago.
Forming the group
In March of 1992, the Lansing Veterans Memorial Honor Guard was first established. Tom Luberda, who was president of the Lansing Veterans Memorial, put out a request that an honor guard be formed to present colors at services and events held at the memorial. Eleven members made up the original group, led by Rich Dominiak and Larry Grzywinski.
“We were requested by the memorial founder Tom Luberda to put together an honor guard. Myself and Larry went out and recruited from a lot of local organizations and came up with enough to do it,” said Dominiak. “We had our first meeting in 1992 at the airport.”
Fulfilling a mission
“The main mission of the honor guard was to conduct services at the Lansing Veterans Memorial for military holidays such as Memorial Day and Veterans Day, and also to participate in events of military significance such as parades and services in Lansing and the surrounding communities so as to maintain the visibility of the Memorial,” Dominiak said.
For three decades, the honor guard has filled the role of posting colors at events at the Lansing Veterans Memorial, which is located at the Lansing Municipal Airport and their presence has extended beyond the memorial and even beyond the Village of Lansing. They’ve participated in a number of annual events from parades to dedication ceremonies to additional events honoring current military.
“Even after 30 years, we never get tired of presenting our nations colors,” said LVMCHG member Jeff Schoettle. “Our mission has always been to honor those servicemen and women who have served, fought, died, or have gone missing while wearing the flag of our nation. Additionally, we continue to honor our Honor Guard members who have passed away. Not only did they serve their country honorably, but they, and all the members of the current honor guard, volunteered their time participating in patriotic ceremonies.”
As the members have aged and others have passed on, the group looks to find new members to carry on the group’s traditions. Dominiak said that the LVMCHG is open to anyone that has served in any branch of the U.S. Military.
Dominiak’s initial interest in getting the group started came from growing up in a family of veterans.
“I had uncles who were in the military and one was a prisoner of war during World War II,” he said. “It’s in my blood, I’m a patriotic person. I was a boy scout. It’s something that comes naturally.”
The LVMCHG hopes to recruit younger members to help keep the Honor Guard moving forward for years to come. It’s getting harder for the older members to continue to be active in events and ceremonies, Dominiak said: “At one time we had enough to carry all the service flags in the parades. We can’t do that any more.”
Although the members do so much giving, they also reap rewards from their participation. “I get a lot of personal satisfaction when I see ordinary citizens, young and old, stand up and salute our Nation’s flag as it passes by,” said Schoettle. “No one is more deserving of our honor and reverence than those who died, or have gone missing in service to our country.”
The Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard will appear at a Memorial Day service on May 29 at the Lansing Veterans Memorial. The ceremony starts at 2 p.m. and will remember the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The LVMCHG will appear later this year at their annual POW/MIA vigil at the memorial on September 16, at Lansing Autumn Fest on September 26, and at the Lansing Veterans Memorial for a Veterans Day ceremony on November 6.
A timeline of the Honor Guard
- Posted colors at presidential candidate Ross Perot’s “United we Stand” party rally in Rosemont, IL.
- Awarded “WWII Commemorative Community” status from the U.S. Government.
- Posted colors at Congressman Jerry Weller’s inauguration ceremony in Joliet, IL at the Rialto Theater.
- Awarded “50th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemorative Community” status from the U.S. Government.
- Participated in the “South Side Irish Parade” as first position lead color guard.
- Awarded “50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemorative Community status” from the US Government.
- Participated in the M1-A1 Tank Memorial dedication in Hegewisch IL.
- Posted Colors at the grand opening of Lansing’s Walmart.
- Awarded 100tth Anniversary of “WWI Commemorative Community” status from the U.S. Government.
- Participated in the Blue Highway Memorial dedication in Lansing.
- Participated on Memorial Day at Memorial Jr High with Post 697.
- Posted colors at J.J. Kelley’s for the retirement party for St. Ann Pastor Fr. MacFarland.
- Posted colors for a 9/11 ceremony at Lansing Municipal Center.
- Posted colors for Lansing Village’s WWII “Bells of Peace” memory proclamation.
- Posted colors at Nathan Hale Elementary school’s reopening.
- Posted colors at the Thornton Township “Veterans Appreciation” ceremony.
- Posted colors at the Lansing Village “Hometown Heroes” ceremony.
- Participated in the Sgt. Nathan Goodman drive by in Lansing.
- Posted colors at the Lansing “Hometown Hero Banner” event at the Lansing Library.
- Participated at the Lansing Memorial for the “War Dog” memorial dedication.
- Attended the burial ceremony for HG supporter Rene Nawodylo at Holy Cross cemetery.
- Participated at a family ceremony at the Lansing Memorial for Sgt. Taylor Rhodelander.
- Participated in a 20th Anniversary of 9/11 ceremony with the Lansing Fire & Police Departments.
- Participated in a Thornton Township Veterans Day Ceremony.