David Allen Jr. during his service in the Marine Corps.

David R. Allen Jr., a two-time president of the Kankakee County Chapter of the Marine Corps League, will be the keynote speaker at Kankakee’s Memorial Day ceremonies.

On Monday, May 31, Allen will deliver the same message at two locations. At 9 a.m., he will speak at Memorial Gardens Cemetery east of Kankakee. At 10:30 a.m., he will speak from the steps of the Kankakee County Courthouse. The public is welcome at both services. The courthouse event will also include remarks from Kankakee Mayor Chris Curtis.

Allen says he will speak on the true meaning of Memorial Day, which honors those who died in the defense of the country. Its founding dates back to the years after the Civil War and to an order given by Civil War General John A. Logan of Illinois. Logan’s order helping to establish the day is commemorated in a plaque on the front of the courthouse.

Allen served in the Marines from 1958 to 1961 with his service being stateside. He rose to the rank of lance corporal.

Allen has been active for many years with the Marine Corps League. The Kankakee County Detachment has 54 members, he says. Across the nation, the Marine Corps League is one of the few veterans organizations growing in strength. Allen has been commandant of the local detachment twice, each time serving for two years.

The league has many charitable activities, serving throughout the community. Members help at the Illinois Veterans Home at Manteno. They have an annual party commemorating the birthday of the Marine Corps and, along with other groups like the Disabled American Veterans and the Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsman’s Club, help provide snacks for the veterans.

They also help with ceremonies at funerals, chiefly for Marines, but they will help, when asked, for others who have served. You can also see the Marine Corps League post the colors during the annual Memorial Day and Veterans Day activities. They also work with the Emblem Club during Flag Day.

The Marine Corps League sponsors Boy Scouts and has assisted with Eagle Scout presentations. At Christmastime, they collect toys for the Toys for Tots drive and provide support for military families in need.