GENOA – For Capt. Brian Fox, Memorial Day is more than a day off. For him, it’s a day to remember, honor and respect those who gave their lives in service to the United States.
Fox serves as the full-time training officer for the Illinois Army National Guard and battery commander for Alpha Battery 2nd Battalion 122nd Field Artillery out of Sycamore. He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, a recipient of the Army Achievement with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
Fox will be the guest speaker during Genoa’s Memorial Day celebrations. Other soldiers from the Sycamore artillery will take part in the parade with a Humvee military truck and equipment.
Genoa’s Memorial Day parade will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Genoa Veterans Home, 311 S. Washington St. The parade will end with a ceremony at the Genoa Cemetery, at the corner of Hill and Sycamore streets.
For a full listing of local Memorial Day events, see page 4.
MidWeek Reporter Katrina Milton spoke to Fox about his service in the Illinois Army National Guard and the importance of Memorial Day.
Milton: Tell me about yourself.
Fox: I grew up in the northwest suburbs in Arlington Heights. I got married in 2000 to my wife, Linda, and we have three children: Kara, who’s 16, Eric, who’s 13 and Jenna who’s 11. I enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 2009 when I was 34. I was 35 when I completed basic training. I will have served 10 years this June. I graduated college in 1998 from Eastern Illinois University with a degree in marketing. Most of my civilian career was in information technology.
Milton: What inspired you to join the military?
Fox: I always wanted to be in the military. When I was younger, I loved reading, watching and learning about the military. I thought about enlisting after high school, but went to college instead. Then I met my wife, got married and had kids. But I had always wanted to serve. I liked the ILARNG because it wasn’t active duty, I could serve and we could remain where we were.
Milton: How is military life different from civilian life?
Fox: I get to do a lot of things I never would have dreamt about as a civilian. The military has given me the opportunity to do and learn new things. I’ve also been able to meet people from all walks of life and travel the world. I was deployed in 2010 to 2011 in Kuwait and Iraq. My unit was a transportation company responsible for pulling equipment from Iraq and bringing it to Kuwait. Deployment was always something I hoped to do. I was fortunate to have that experience fairly early on in my military years, after about only a year.
Milton: Do you think you military service has changed you?
Fox: Serving in the military has definitely helped me become more understanding of my capabilities of what I can do. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with so many people and do so many things. When I was in IT, I met seven or eight people in small companies. The National Guard is a whole different environment. I’ve been able to expand up and grown in my capabilities.
Milton: How is Memorial Day different for the armed forces and veterans?
Fox: It’s different when you’re in the military. Before, I never had to experience loss. Some people I’ve known have been deployed and lost their lives. That changes you and makes you think of things differently, gives you a different perspective.
Milton: Can you explain the difference between Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day?
Fox: Veterans Day is all about honoring veterans, Armed Forces Day honors those that currently serve and Memorial Day is about remembering the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Memorial Day is not just for those that died during recent wars or conflicts, it’s for all that made the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II and more recent wars, battles and conflicts.
Milton: Why is Memorial Day important?
Fox: Memorial Day is to honor, respect and remember those that fought, served and died for the United States. Their sacrifices, we hope led to the United States winning conflicts, helping the world and our country. During the Civil War, all soldiers gave their lives, on both sides, in support of America. In World War I and World War II, they sacrificed not only for us, but also to make others free, like in the liberation of the Pacific and of Europe. The sacrifices they made have brought us freedom. The purpose was much bigger than themselves. They never went in knowing of their sacrifice. They volunteered because they thought they were doing good for a bigger purpose.