Time to honor many who serve Naperville

Inauguration of Naperville councilman Steve Chirico, 2011.
| Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media
Inauguration of Naperville councilman Steve Chirico, 2011. | Michael R. Schmidt~For Sun-Times Media

Hello residents and friends of Naperville! The month of May was filled with respect and honor for our military personnel. The Memorial Day parade was a reverent, and at times tearful, occasion as we remembered those who gave their lives so that we might be free.

And speaking of the military, I was thrilled last month to receive an encased American flag that flew in Afghanistan on Sept. 11, 2013. The Air Force member that presented the flag to me is a Naperville North High School graduate who has made military service his career. I asked why I was so privileged to receive this flag, and his mother said “My son thought you were a real cool guy and wanted to give you this memento for your office.” I was touched by his generosity and dedication to our country. To all of our veterans, I say thank you for your service.

Naperville has so many people who are serving others in the course of their day-to-day duties. Our letter carriers recently went above and beyond the call of duty, as they do each year, to gather food for Loaves and Fishes Community Pantry during a food drive on May 10. This year they collected more than 80,000 pounds of food. I drove around Naperville that day thanking every postal worker that I saw on the street, because their yearly efforts really do make a difference for those in need.

We also took time recently to remember the heroes that work in our fire and police departments. Peace Officers Memorial Day was a time to reflect during a small service at our police station. It really reminded me that we need to thank our officers for what they do for us as first responders and guardians of our safety. Having served on Naperville’s police force, I know our officers are dedicated to their profession, and without their expertise and passion for the job, our city would not be the same.

Our Fire Department is equally as wonderful at serving our community. Last month we also remembered those firefighters who died in the line of duty. On Dec. 7, 1970, our community lost three firefighters in the blink of an eye when their fire truck collided with a semi-trailer at the intersection of Route 59 and then-Route 65 (known today as Aurora Avenue) as they were responding to a call. Lt. Richard Rechenmacher, Engineer Jerry Herring, and Firefighter Bernard Petrowski were killed at the scene instantly. The Firemen’s Memorial along Jefferson Avenue also pays tribute to Lt. George Winckler, who passed away in October 1991 during a training exercise. It was my honor and privilege to have served with these four heroes and such fine public servants. I’ll never forget them. Please take a moment to visit the memorial. Our fire department is second to none and they perform a great service to our city by keeping us safe.

Truly, every member of our community is special and contributes to our quality of life. As the mayor, I enjoy meeting our residents and celebrating the diversity we enjoy in our city. When representatives of different nations visit, I am always pleased to welcome them and showcase what Naperville has to offer. I hope that we will always make everyone feel welcome and that Naperville is their home, no matter what their background. Each person’s background and rich cultural heritage contributes to the beautiful atmosphere of our city.

That look and feel just got a little brighter with the addition of Standard Market near the corner of Ogden and Aurora avenues. This market is in a great location near the Police Department, Fire Station No. 7 and the Electric Service Center, and it will give our residents and visitors a new shopping and dining experience. Welcome to Standard Market.

And finally, continuing the tradition I started in last month’s column, it is time for me to thank another City Council member for his commitment to working together as part of our Council team.

This month, I want to thank Councilman Steve Chirico for all of his efforts. Councilman Chirico was elected to the City Council in 2011 after serving for years on the SECA board and as the chairman of the Building Review Board. Steve is a lifetime resident of Naperville. In 1984 Steve opened Great Western Flooring in Naperville and has run his company since that time. He and his wife, Julie, met as volunteers for Naperville Responds, which helped raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Steve and Julie have a combined family of seven children, one grandson and another on the way.

Thank you, Naperville, for all you do to help make this city such a great place to live, work and play.

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