Navy veteran Randy Klaus marched in Saturday’s Memorial Day parade, then stopped at the end to watch as the rest of the participants walked by.
“My three favorite days are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans’ Day,” said Mr. Klaus of Toledo, remarking that some of the spectators who lined the downtown Toledo streets thanked him as he went past.
A patriotic crowd staked out spots along the route as police motorcycles revved up and led a long and sometimes loud procession of marching bands, military vehicles, clowns, and candy throwers. Observers — many decked out in red, white, and blue — waved American flags, clapped, and snapped pictures.
PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Memorial Day parade and service
Chuck Fischer of Toledo planned to pay his respects later at the cemetery where his father, a World War II veteran, and his brother, a Vietnam veteran, are buried side by side. He lost both relatives in 2001. His father served in the Army, including stints at Pearl Harbor and on Okinawa.
But before making that graveside visit, he watched with respect as the parade marched by.
Honoring those who served in the military was heavy on the hearts of many who turned out for the holiday event.
An American flag and a ribbon with the words “God Bless the USA” decorated the back of Lloyd Blake’s motorized chair. The Toledo man took his grandchildren to see the parade.
The children loved the Zenobia Lancers’ miniature cars and chasing after candy. Mr. Blake enjoyed the drummers and the vehicles, and said he attended because he supports U.S. troops and American freedom.
“They [the children] don’t understand it, but I try to explain it to them,” he said.
After the parade, some continued to the Civic Center Mall, where local government officials, military members, and thankful citizens joined together for a Memorial Day service for more than an hour.
Dawn Heisler, director of the military support outreach program Heroes in Action, said the Toledo-based group supports troops and their families at home by sending monthly care packages and helping in emergency situations with clothing, food, and other needs.
Members of Heroes in Action walked in the parade, and then made their way to the service, which drew about 125 people. Many more watched the parade.
“They served our country, and we love them for it. We want them to know they are appreciated,” she said.
The service, organized by the volunteer Toledo-Lucas County Memorial Day Association, featured many solemn moments, including a bell-ringing ceremony, bagpipes, laying of wreaths in honor of those who have died, and singing. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Charles Bright, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Unit Toledo, delivered the main address.
Veronica Mora of Perrysburg helped lay a wreath during the service. She wanted to honor the memory of her husband, Army Sgt. Arthur Anthony Mora, Jr., who died in Balad, Iraq, in 2005. He had been deployed 94 days when he was killed by an improvised explosive device, she said. He was 23 at the time of his death.
“The minute ‘Amazing Grace’ started playing, it was my son who started crying first, and so of course watching my son cry, hearing him cry, I lost it, and we just became a row of tears,” she said. “You want to keep his memory alive, and this is just one of those weekends where everyone else shares in [that].”
Contact Vanessa McCray at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6065.