At last week’s Village Board meeting, Village President Norm Abbott presented a proclamation declaring April 8 as Lansing Fallen Heroes Memorial Day. By designating that day, it helps bring awareness to the sacrifices made by our public servants and specifically to Officer Kenneth Novak Jr. and Lance Cpl. Phil Martini, who each died on April 8 in separate years in serving honorably in their chosen professions.
Officer Novak died on April 8, 1992, in the line of duty. He is the only Lansing police officer to lose his life while performing his duties with the Lansing Police Department. Martini died while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq on April 8, 2006. He is the only person from Lansing who has lost his life while performing his duties in the current war.
As time passes, it is up to those in the community to make sure they are not forgotten. By designating April 8 as a day of remembrance, it helps newer residents become aware of the men and reminds longtime residents they paid the ultimate sacrifice by protecting us.
I’ve gotten to know members of the Novak and Martini families a bit over the years and both of them appeared on the cover of my most recent book. Both were appreciative of the recognition given to their loved one. Novak’s parents, sister and a niece who was born after his death were in attendance at the board meeting.
“I just wanted to say that I'm touched that Lansing has remembered, and will continue to remember Ken. Between the sign at the exit/entrance to the police parking with his badge number on it, the plaque in the Police Department lobby, and now the memorial day, it's nice to know at the very least, the Lansing Police Department will remember, even though there are very few left on the force that actually knew Ken,” said Novak’s sister, Kathy Faucault. “I do have a friend from another state whose son was killed in the line of duty in a big city, and he has all but been forgotten. It's nice to know that the town of Lansing and it's residents care.”
“On behalf of my family, friends of Phil, and the Marines that served with Phil we are humbled and honored,” said Phil’s brother, James Martini. “The town of Lansing and it's surrounding communities have shown tremendous support to keeping Phil and Officer Novak's memory alive.”
I’m pleased this day has been named Lansing Fallen Heroes Memorial Day and I hope throughout the village, residents will find a way to honor these brave men. Fly a flag in front of your home to remember. Light a candle. Say a prayer with your family at the dinner table. Visit the Lansing Veterans Memorial. Visit the Lansing police station. Stop by the Martini tree planted at Winterhoff Park. Go to the Lansing Police Officer Kenneth Novak Jr. Memorial Page Facebook page or the Lance Cpl. Philip J. Martini Memorial Foundation Facebook page and learn a little more about them. Seek out a current Lansing police officer or someone in the military and express your gratitude for their service.
This past week our family took a trip to Indianapolis to enjoy the attractions there while the kids were on spring break. We had a fun time visiting museums and the zoo and eating at some great restaurants, but my favorite stop of our visit was one we originally didn’t even have on our itinerary. It was the Indiana War Memorial and I recommend a stop there for anyone visiting Indy. As we were driving by to get to another destination, I knew we’d have to include a stop. It’s a very beautiful and solemn place to reflect on why we have the freedom we do and to remember those like Martini who have provided it for us. The structure itself is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places I’ve ever seen.
Still time to RSVP for Veteran Appreciation Dinner
The Lansing Junior Woman’s Club will be hosting the fifth annual Veteran Appreciation Dinner at 5 p.m. April 17 at the Knights of Columbus, 17800 Lorenz Ave. in Lansing. The evening includes dinner, dessert, raffles and entertainment and is free to all veterans and current military and a guest. RSVP deadline is April 8. To RSVP call (708) 895-8982 or email email@example.com.
I also want to thank the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard for inviting me to their appreciation dinner last weekend. They’re such a special group of people and I feel honored to be welcomed to their functions. Also in attendance was Bob Zajac and his wife, owners of Pudgy’s Pizza in Hegewisch. Zajac is a Vietnam veteran and has supported the Honor Guard throughout the years. His first contact was when he heard they were doing an overnight POW vigil at the airport and he sent pizzas out to those participating. He’s also been a big supporter of St. Florian School and has donated to the school, which was slated to close at the end of the school year and will now remain open thanks to donations. Kudos to Zajac for his support of the Hegewich and Lansing communities.