NORTH CENTER — There were no banners or welcome home parades when Tom Greenan left the Air Force in 1966.
"People are more accepting now," said Greenan, one of the nearly dozen members of American Legion Tattler Post 973 who participated in the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce Veterans Day ceremony, held Tuesday.
Despite the light but steady rain, a small crowd gathered in North Center's Town Square to honor the country's servicemen and women.
Every day is Veterans Day, said Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey, who thanked past and present members of the armed forces, as well as their family members, for the sacrifices they make.
Citing Pres. Barack Obama's Veterans Day address, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) called on Chicagoans to provide support for returning veterans as they re-integrate themselves into society.
Tattler Post 973 has been doing just that since 1946, when the group received its American Legion charter. The post was named after a newsletter that was mailed to 47th Ward soldiers during World War II to keep them abreast of what was happening on the homefront.
"There's a nice camaraderie" at the post, said Greenan, who served from 1962 to 1966, half of that time in Japan, half on U.S. soil.
It's a place to share stories "not everyone would understand," he said.
Combat veterans are most appreciative of the American Legion's services, said Tattler Post 973 commander Timothy O'Mahoney.
"A lot talk about being diagnosed with PTSD," said O'Mahoney, whose service in 1962-63 coincided with the height of Cold War tensions during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
"It's about being with people who understand you," he said.
Greenan and O'Mahoney both volunteered for military service, even though a draft was in effect at the time.
"I think the draft was a good thing. It sort of gives people a nudge to be of service," said O'Mahoney, who favors the return of some kind of compulsory service, not necessarily military.
"Young people should be required to give some sort of service to their country."