By Kayleigh Rahn
Local attorney Andrew Bequette was a bit confused when he was asked by the Tuscola Veterans of Foreign Wars to serve as speaker of the 2018 Memorial Day observance.
“I had two reactions: First I was deeply humbled and honored and the second was there must have been some mistake,” he admitted Monday, May 28 at the Tuscola Township Cemetery.
Andrew Bequette was born in Danville and grew up in Mt. Zion where he graduated from high school in 1994. He continued his education at the University of Illinois where he earned his law degree before starting law practice in 2001. Bequette has served as the city attorney of Tuscola since 2007 and is a partner of Beckett & Webber law office that came to Tuscola in 2006.
“I’ve never served in the military; no one close to me was killed or wounded in action; I’m not an elected official; I’m not even from Tuscola,” Bequette said. “When Paul (Wisovaty) assured me I was the speaker they wanted he reminded me that this was Memorial Day, not Veterans Day. I understood what he meant. For while it is certainly appropriate on this day to remember all those who served, the primary purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who died while serving our country, those who, as Lincoln said, ‘gave the last full measure of devotion.’”
Those who have laid down his life for his friends, he said.
“And that’s something no one here today has done,” Bequette said. “That puts us all in the same place, living a debt of gratitude that cannot be repaid.”
Bequette introduced his father and paternal grandfather who served and were present Monday morning at the Tuscola service.
Bequette shared details of his grandfather James Bailey’s high school friend who served in the Marines during World War II and was killed in action in 1944.
“I’ve often thought of those two friends and my family has not forgotten Wayne,” he said noting the many family members who share the middle name Wayne.
Bequette encouraged the attendees to visit the Grand Army of the Republic Room at the Douglas County Courthouse and noted that the county website lists all residents who have served. As many as 285 people from Douglas County were killed in action or died in service, he added.
“Hearing those names, thinking of those men and the sacrifices they’ve made, the lives they did not get to live and those they left behind brings us back to where we began,” he said. “The feeling of not being worthy, of being humbled. There is a part of me that feels that the only thing to do in light of that is to just stop talking and sit down. To have the rest of this ceremony be the group of us sitting in odd silence for what was given up so that we may continue on.”
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, May 30 edition of The Tuscola Journal.