Iraq War Veteran Tammy Duckworth Leaves District 205 Students With Plenty to Think About on 11-11-11

Duckworth relayed the message of Veterans Day and her own personal service to captive audiences at York and Edison.

Iraqi War veteran Tammy Duckworth began this Veterans Day in the warm embrace of the students and staff at and .

Duckworth joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps as a graduate student at George Washington University, and was called to active duty in Iraq in 2004. She continues to serve as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Duckworth, who in many ways has become the face of the American veteran, had a story to tell the students at York, her first stop at 8 a.m. (See accompanying video.)

She recalled for the thousands in the York gymnasium how, on Nov. 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by rocket-propelled grenades over Iraq. She told them how one of those RPGs exploded in her lap, severing both her legs and ripping off the back of her right arm. She spoke of her comrades, who saved her life, and of the importance of each member of the armed forces to their team, even down to the lowest rank.

The York gym, filled to capacity, fell silent as students hung on the words of the Purple Heart veteran.

But it wasn't all somber. Duckworth, who injected plenty of humor into her speech, said Veterans Day should be "a joyful day to celebrate this nation and the men and women who serve this country."

Students also heard from other local veterans, including Bill Shanklin of the Elmhurst American Legion, who told the students he learned the virtues of respect, confidence, humility, responsibility, integrity, courage and leadership in the military.

They heard from veteran and York Counselor Bill Gardner, who explained the importance of tradition, and York assistant cross country coach Clyde Ware, who explained that students are just as important to the country's future as veterans.

"My fear when I accepted this opportunity (to speak) was that you would leave here and go on with the rest of your day, and forget what you've heard here," Ware said.

That appears unlikely after Duckworth's presentation, which left them all something to think about.

Duckworth concluded her time in Elmhurst at Edison School, where she shared an age-appropriate message for students, entertained their questions and posed for photographs.

Lynn Czapla November 11, 2011 at 10:01 PM
Thank you for posting the video!
John D. Said, AICP November 11, 2011 at 10:57 PM
Next to the definition of 'hero' in the dictionary, you will find a photo of Ms. Duckworth. Thank you Tammy for your service - past AND present - to this nation!
MIKE November 12, 2011 at 05:21 PM
Sure agree that duckworth is a hero, but the shennagins and politics used by the Dem. Party to get Duckworth on as a candidate in DuPage is absurd and borders on illegal. Tammy is not from this area and is a tool of the Democrats to get their liberal agenda which has made a mess of the economy and will continue if we support her candidacy. So I am for Republicans, not neccessaryily, but let's take a look at every candidate and how they are going to solve this mess we are in.
NancyC November 12, 2011 at 05:52 PM
My son reported in fact that Ms. Duckworths humor was largely distasteful and not laughable for example - the most memorable line for a 16 year old was about how easy it is to change the first letter of her last name to F - ...! My son says the speech that left the real impact was from Clyde Ware. His was the climax of the entire presentation and he spoke like a true leader unlike Ms. Duckworth. I believe the district should have invited a conservative veteran also running for local office or NO candidates at all.
MIKE November 12, 2011 at 05:56 PM
Does the Patch have a video of Clyde Ware's speech at York High? Is so, pls. post. Thanks
Karen Chadra (Editor) November 12, 2011 at 06:53 PM
Sorry, I do not, but there was someone there who took video of the entire event. It might have been for cable TV? I suspect Principal Diana Smith would know who that was. All of the speakers were eloquent. I just didn't have the ability to film the entire hour.
Doremus Jessup November 12, 2011 at 08:07 PM
As a Veteran of a foriegn war I watched in horror at the shananigans when the VFW endorsed Miss Duckworth's opponent, the total tool, Roskam. I do enjoy watching the former death grip that republicans have had in the suburbs weaken every year as their base dies off. Miss Duckworth has my appreciation as a former soldier and as a citizen of Illinois. As for the VFW they have lost my membership for life. At least there is still the American Legion.
ritgar November 12, 2011 at 10:34 PM
If this is the best you can come up with after watching her speech (and you did watch it yourself, right) that is a pretty sad commentary on you. She lost 1/3 of her body in service to this country and has continued to use her life to help other veterans. Too bad for you.
MIKE November 13, 2011 at 02:31 AM
Oh boy, someone has their shorts on a little too tight Doremus - take a chill pill mr. jessup. Roskam is ok, he stands up for moral values and maybe a little different or conservative but the VFW is a conservative old school organization. They will do fine without your membership.
Bill Angel November 13, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Suburbs weakened? Take a peek at the state of Illinois pensions. Take a good look at the CIty of Chicago $650 million budget shortfall. ALL run by the Democrats. And yes, my uncle is a conservative Republican who did two tours in VN.
MIKE November 13, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Bill - i kind of like you views of Dem. ruining our great country, not that Republicans by no means can walk on water, but they were given 3+ yrs. to run the government and we are in worse shape. Not sure what we are going to do with all serviceman and women who will be de-commissioned by the govt. once the two wars are ended.... such a shame maybe they can find a WPA type program to keep them employed.
Lived in 5 other metro areas... November 13, 2011 at 11:54 PM
Um would that be because he's never heard the 'F' word before? Your son is yankin' your chain...and you're fallin' for it. And didn't hear anything related to a politics in her speech. Are you looking for things to be angry about?
John D. Said, AICP November 14, 2011 at 08:01 PM
A snapshot of our society that comments turned to politics...how pathetic. Can there be a reasonable non-partisan conversation about heroes without it spiraling down into political theater? Apparently not. But know this: the life and limb given by those that have served this country from 1775 to the present day isn't Republican, Democratic, Tory, Whig, Fascist, Communist or anything else. These honorable veterans deserve infinitely more than cheap political talk.
MIKE November 15, 2011 at 01:10 PM
John - Give me a break, you sound like the Renaissance Man. Tammie decided to enter politics and it is dirty. She has NEVER held an elected office and thinks she can go to D.C. just like that. I am not republican nor democratic and often vote either or independent if there is one. The point was Duckworth is being packaged by the Dems. as a hero, which she is, but is not from IL, not from DuPage and is not going to be my rep.
John D. Said, AICP November 15, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Thanks for proving my point.
NancyC November 16, 2011 at 07:22 PM
Yup ritgar and Lived in 5 other metro areas..., I watched and listened to the entire speech and I am proud that my son expects a "hero" to insight thoughts elevated a little higher than the gutter. Don't be naive either. Did you notice the inventory she took on the number of 17 year old's in the audience? She now has name recognition when they go to the ballot box for the first time in their lives.
Lived in 5 other metro areas... November 18, 2011 at 09:00 PM
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, speak in different languages with and without 'language' and politics. You're underestimating our young people's ability to reason. And I'm sure you're intimating that Duckworth had alterior motives relating to your comment about her taking inventory. Generalizing will get you into arguements, but not with me. Time to leave you to yourself.


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