Thousands lined the parade route Monday morning. Parade-goers honored heroes and paid tribute to them on the very somber day.
“My brother served in the military for 26 years and this is what we do to honor him and everybody else that served our country. This is important. We get up at 7 o’clock in the morning just to come here,” said Lois Menis.
“I hope the children can understand how important it is and how important it is to be peaceful and keep peace and in this day and age of turmoil in the whole world, I just hope that these young children can change that around,” said Barb Weglarz.
And the Grand Marshal of the parade this year is Al Mampre, born and raised in Oak Park. He joined the army when he was only 20. A veteran of World War Two and combat medic, his unit was immortalized in the HBO series “Band of Brothers.” Al was one of them.
“We have a lot of what I call straight arrows. We’re in good hands. I have no qualms about our future,” Mampre said.
Meanwhile Gold Star wife Katie Stack is remembering her husband James who was killed in Afghanistan back in 2010, along with 24 other men. This ceremony memorializing him and others who died in service from Arlington Heights.
“The most important thing to me is that people have given the ultimate sacrifice and we as a nation deserve to give them this day to honor and recognize those who,” Stack said.
Veterans read the names of 58 servicemen from Arlington Heights who died in the service of our nation from the Civil War to Operation Enduring Freedom.
In Chicago, a former Vietnam prisoner of war led a wreath-laying ceremony in Grant Park.
Retired Major General John L. Borling was a fighter pilot who was shot down during Vietnam. He spent several years as a POW.
Borling will lead Monday’s ceremony at the General John A. Logan Monument.
General Logan was a Civil War general who started Decoration Day, which later became known as Memorial Day.
Also in Chicago, the South Side Memorial Day Parade got underway at St. Leo’s Residence For Veterans, 7750 S. Emerald Ave., and ended with a wreath ceremony back at the home’s garden.
Monday is your last chance to check out a smaller replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.