Rockford joined the country remembering our fallen heroes on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. Many celebrations include arts and craft booths, entertainment, pig roasts, and parades with lavish floats. In contrast, Rockford’s traditional Memorial Day celebration, sponsored by American Legion Post 102, focused on the true purpose of the holiday-to honor the men and women who have given their lives to defend our freedom. As City Manager, Michael Young said in his remarks at the City Cemetery as part of today’s events, this is not a day meant to mark the start of summer, to open the pool or the summer cottage, or when our biggest decision is what to cook on the grill. It is day when we take time to remember. It is a day when we stop to honor those who have paid the ultimate price to serve our country. We will have our opportunity to celebrate the pleasures of our lives in a few weeks during our annual Start of Summer Festival. We will stuff ourselves at food booths, wander through arts and craft booths, watch our children gather candy thrown from floats of every imaginable type along our parade route, and shout out the obligatory oooh’s and aahhh’s during the fireworks displays. But today is not a time for that in Rockford. Memorial Day in Rockford is marked more reverently. This year, as in the past, a modest parade featuring veterans, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the Rockford High School Band proceeded along Main Street. It stopped between Courtland and Bridge Streets for the playing of the National Anthem, a prayer, and some comments honoring heroes from the area and elsewhere. The parade then proceeded through town to the City Cemetery where a simple ceremony included Star Spangled Banner played by the junior high band, a prayer, comments from Michael Young, and a 21-gun salute. Red and white carnations were then placed on veterans’ graves, after which the solemn sound of Taps was heard echoing from the distance. Memorial Day was first celebrated in the 1860’s as a day set aside to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. In fact, it was originally known as Decoration Day for that reason. Over the years, its meaning evolved to include […]
May 28 2009
On Thursday, May 21, four Rockford crew women’s boats embarked on a journey that would prove to be a very successful weekend at the 75th Scholastic National Regatta in Princeton, New Jersey. The best crew teams gathered to compete against the best of the best at Mercer Lake to find out who is top in the nation. The four Rockford women’s boats that made the long trip included a freshman eight, junior four, lightweight eight and a varsity four, all qualifying at the Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Rockford girls crew team took first place overall at the championship in Ohio, making Rockford the best girls crew team over the entire Midwest. The championship gave Rockford the title of being the best of nearly 50 of the best teams from across the entire Midwest and Canada. The Scholastic National Regatta ran 183 events over the course of Friday and Saturday, May 22-23. The events encompass over 330 entries from teams as far south as Miami, Florida and as far north as Maine and several Midwest states. The national junior four boat contained coxswain Danielle Frick and rowers Megan Korson, Maddie Anderson, Camille Pulver, and Rebecca Markham. The boat easily transferred to the semifinals. The Saturday semifinals ended impressively, ranking them in the top 12 in the nation. The national varsity four also had an impressive run over the two days. The boat consisted of coxswain Jenny DeNike and rowers Olivia Kacsits, Christine Kasper, Darcy Peck, Michelle Kuhn and alternate Alicia Dickinson. The varsity four advanced through the preliminary rounds to set them up in the semifinals with a third-place finish. The girls then went on to finish first in the petite finals. This grand finish landed them a seventh-place finish overall. The national varsity lightweight eight boat housed coxswain Danielle Teft and rowers Raechel Wrona, Claire Harding, Shelby Jacobs, Christiana Scofield, Molly Guthrie, Richelle Huizenga, Jane Vandervelde, Katina Goad, and alternate Chloe McColgan. The eight worked their way through their heats to the finals. In the final heat, the girls pulled out an amazing fifth-place finish against some of the fastest boats from across the country in their division. The freshman crew with coxswain Rebecca DeKorne and rowers Emily Prus, Jessica Wheeler, […]
Mark Gillikin, 48, was pronounced dead at Spectrum Hospital after sustaining critical injuries about 6:45 p.m. Monday, May 25 on West River Drive. He had been driving a 2001 Harley Davidson motorcycle. According to Kourtland Ford, eyewitness to the accident who phoned in the 9-1-1 call, an eastbound Chevy Blazer was waiting in the left lane to make a left turn when the motorcyclist crashed into the back of the vehicle. It appeared to Ford that Gillikin realized too late that the Chevy had stopped and tried to avoid hitting it. Occupants in the Blazer were unhurt. Ford said he helped slow traffic while other witnesses performed CPR to the victim, who was unresponsive. The accident took place east of the Jupiter Avenue intersection West River Drive. In addition to Plainfield Fire Department, Kent County Sheriff deputies and the Kent County Road Commission responded to the scene. The victim was transported by Rockford Ambulance.
Army Private First Class (PFC) Andrew Berli, a 2006 Comstock Park High School graduate, is used to going into hostile and uncertain situations while on duty in Iraq, but when entering Lakes Elementary School in Rockford on Wednesday, May 20, Berli was nervous for a whole different reason. He was going to meet his fifth grade pen pals from Sandy Knottnerus’s class to share what his life is like in Iraq. Knotternus also was a bit on edge explaining, “As a teacher, I worry about guest speakers coming into my classroom. Will the students be polite and respectful? Will the speaker be interesting? What is the speaker’s comfort level in front of a group? Will the PowerPoint work?” PFC Berli and Knotternus quickly found out neither had reason for concern-the class full of spellbound fifth graders surrounded him with cheers, signs, decorations, hundreds of questions, and even a cake for his 21st birthday. Knotternus said, “All of my worrying was for nothing. When PFC Berli came to visit, nothing could have gone better. In fact, I think my favorite moment was when PFC Andrew Berli was telling my students about the guys on his team. Before long, kids started popping up with, ‘What about Private White? What about Sergeant Forbis? What about Cecil?’ It was then that the bond that had been forming over the year was cemented. PFC Berli knew that we knew them by name and cared deeply about each. This was the moment that I knew how powerful this experience had been for my students, for Team Bonesaw, and for me.” Knotterus’s students began writing and sending care packages to Berli’s unit last fall, when she learned her student Brennon Shupe was PFC Berli’s nephew. The entire class embraced the idea, parents got on board donating non-perishable items, and soon soldiers and students were communicating and learning about their lives separated by 7,000-plus miles. One of PFC Berli’s only requests while on leave was to spend time with his pen pals, thanking them for all the letters and care packages. He put together a slide show with photos to share with the students. As the students sat in a circle around PFC Berli, he explained whenever a care package […]
Marissa Bouwkamp waited her whole life to do this. The 10-year-old Parkside Elementary student donated 13 inches of her hair to Locks of Love. Marissa’s grandfather died of cancer and the girl wanted to do something to help others fighting the disease. Bouwkamp has never had her hair cut, and started to get cold feet prior to May 18, her tenth birthday, when she planned to have it done. She put out a survey at her school, asking classmates if she should go through with it. “Almost all of them said ‘do it’, ” she shared. “It makes me feel great inside to know someone who is bald will feel better.”