SOMERS — It wasn’t until Monday when the David Leet Post 522 learned of a surprise visit from the Pritzker Memorial Foundation on Tuesday.
And even until the last minute, the actual reason for the trip to the American Legion hall was kept under wraps.
But the presentation of a big check — both in dollar amount and in the actual size — surely brought smiles to a number of people’s faces in attendance during a brief ceremony on the eve of Veterans Day.
Priztker CEO and President Rob Havers presented a donation of $2,000 to Post Commander Danny Rodriguez as part of the ongoing celebration of the groundbreaking of the Pritzker Archives and Memorial Park Center on 288 acres at I-94 and Highway E.
A virtual groundbreaking at that location was held recently. Work has begun and the initial phase is expected to be completed sometime early in 2023, Havers said.
“It is the logical outgrowth of our facility in Chicago,” he said. “Col. Pritzker is a veteran herself and is committed to helping veterans organizations and American Legion posts such as this.” Family member Jennifer Natalya Pritzker retired as a lieutenant colonel from the United States Army in 2001.
“This is a great entry into the community. We’re delighted to make this donation and help these guys do what they do,” Havers added.
Rodriguez said the gift was quite the pleasant surprise.
“It just benefits the American Legion all the way around,” he said. “We have our hands in a lot of different pots. That’s what it’s all about.
“What (the relationship with) Pritzker means is just what it is doing for the whole town. To use a Marine Corps term, it’s enhanced the esprit de corps of all the people coming through. They’re proud to have a flag and proud to be an American.”
The donated money will fill a number of needs, Rodriguez said, primarily to assist charities within the community the American Legion serves.
As part of the ongoing celebration, Pritzker also donated American flags that were distributed the past several days. Residents also can pick up a flag today, Rodriguez said.
Heading into Veterans Day, Rodriguez said about 100 flag kits and 250 flags have been handed out.
“What’s been really nice is just talking to the people, how they feel about it, and everyone’s been very, very positive,” Rodriguez said.
The Pritzker Military Archives Center is in the project’s first phase. Construction then will follow on the Midwest Firearms Education and Training Center and Cold War Veterans Memorial.
According to an earlier release, the project was created out of a need for additional space to house the archival collections of the museum and library based in Chicago.
Pritzker staff said the state-of-the-art, institutional archive will provide space to restore, preserve and store collections that include books, artifacts and other historical materials. The campus also includes community green space.
Rodriguez said the location is a perfect fit that should draw plenty of visitors, and maybe even add to the Post’s current membership.
“It’s almost halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, it’s right off the interstate,” he said. “It’s just a beautiful location and piece of land that they have.”
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