It may be years overdue, but “Taps” was finally played in honor of John F. Derby this weekend.

It may be years overdue, but “Taps” was finally played in honor of John F. Derby this weekend.
Derby, for whom the Frontenac American Legion is named, was the first Frontenac soldier killed in World War I. At the legion hall on Saturday, more than 10 of his Derby’s relatives — they are scattered throughout the country — reunited under one roof for the Derby Family Reunion.
Following a formal ceremony, relatives mingled and chatted among themselves and the other dignitaries who attended the reunion. Duke Locke, legion member, broke up the conversations for just a couple of minutes to give “one special recognition to John F. Derby.”
“It’s one that I don’t think has ever been done,” he said.
That’s when “Taps” began to play.
Following the song, Joann Derby Rasmussen, John Derby’s niece, said “This all has been so beautiful.”
“It is really touching being here today,” she said.
Rasmussen, on behalf of the Derby family, received multiple plaques on John F. Derby’s honor during the reunion. Locke said it was the city and the legion’s way of remembering and honoring the sacrifice John F. Derby made for his country.
PFC John F. Derby, who served as a wagoner with Co. F 353 Infantry, 89th Division, was part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive that succeeded in pushing the Germans out of France during World War I. A total of 1.2 million Americans fought in this battle, and about one of every 10 was killed or wounded. During the reunion, the Derby family presented the legion with a framed picture of John F. Derby’s final resting place, the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial.
Jane Rasmussen, John F. Derby’s great-niece, said she is honored that Frontenac continues to remember her great-uncle’s memory.
“We think this is absolutely terrific,” she said. “It’s wonderful that they invited us to come here and take part in this. It’s nice knowing there are still people out there who remember and who care enough to do this.”
Kris Cerone, another of Derby’s great-nieces, credited Locke and the legion for making the reunion happen.
“The city and the legion really stepped up and did everything for us,” she said. “I can’t thank them enough. I’m from southern California (Oceanside) where people push you out of the way. So for them to do this for us here, I really can’t believe it.”
Saturday’s noon luncheon was preceded by Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where a window is dedicated to John F. Derby, followed by a brunch at Chicken Mary’s.
Sen. Bob Marshall was slated to speak at the luncheon, but could not attend due to a death in the family.