Dave McVey of American Legion Joseph W. Diehn Post 468 in Sylvania, left, salutes during the posting of the colors. The color guard personnel are John E. Schuster, behind the flags, and John A. Nye, both members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Remagen Bridge Post 3717 in Sylvania, and Joe Navarre, right, of American Legion Post 468.
Retired Marine Cpl. Bob Romaker, left, and retired Gunnery Sgt. Juan Artiaga, both of Perrysburg, prepare to raise the flag at Fort Meigs Union Cemetery in Perrysburg during Monday’s Memorial Day remembrance service.
A bright sun warmed American flags across the region Monday as Memorial Day services honored those who gave their lives in service to the United States.
Patricia Gaffney, with her son, Alexander, 4, of Perrysburg bows her head in prayer at the Fort Meigs Union Cemetery service.
Near the stately Veterans’ Memorial Tower at Toledo Memorial Park in Sylvania, a sea of more than 12,000 small flags marked the graves of veterans.
David R. Bryan of Haskins was among the crowd attending a service there before the city’s parade began.
He served in the U.S. Army as an E5 specialist, a rank equal to a sergeant, in Ogimachi, Japan, from 1953 to 1956 during the Korean War, repairing machines that encrypted sensitive information. His brothers also served in the military.
“I had a brother in the Air Force, a brother in the Navy, and a brother who gave the supreme sacrifice in the Army,” Mr. Bryan said. “He’s buried here, right over yonder.”
Sgt. Clifford E. Bryan was killed in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive in 1968. He was just 21 years old.
Also watching the service was Carl Krupa of Erie, Mich., a Korean War veteran who served on the front lines with the Army as a private first class.
“It’s well worth being here for it,” he said of the service. “There are a lot of memories, good and bad.”
Mr. Krupa spent time talking with a young Army infantryman he met at the service. The younger soldier had not yet served overseas but had felt the loss of several men from his former company who had gone to serve in Afghanistan.
“He seemed like a nice young man, the kind this country needs,” he said.
Aaron Polaff, 13, center, plays his trombone with the Perrysburg Junior High School band as the march in the parade.
In Perrysburg, where another Memorial Day event was held, thousands gathered for a parade that started downtown and wound its way to Fort Meigs Union Cemetery. The event included a 21-gun salute in honor of area veterans.
“The community just rallied behind the event,” Perrysburg Mayor Michael Olmstead said. “We understand that freedom is not free.”
Mr. Bryan, who tends to his brother’s grave, knows how much freedom costs.
Memorial Day services are important to him.
“It means everything,” he said. “No more, no less. Everything.”
The Memorial Day program in Perrysburg wrapped up with a half-hour ceremony at Fort Meigs Union Cemetery, where Ann Marshall, the community pastor at Zoar Lutheran Church, was the guest speaker.
“We gathered this day to give thanks, to honor the memories of those who never came home, and to recommit ourselves in their names and because of their sacrifices to continue to seek peace in whatever form that we can grasp, for a day, for a week, or a decade, or a generation,” she said. “And not only for them, but also for the sake of our children, and our grandchildren, and the generations yet to come; praying that they may not be called upon to make the same sacrifices that so many others have made. For peace, after all, is not our dream. It is the will of God.”
Mark Long, 47, of Perrysburg, a Marine Corps veteran of the Persian Gulf War, is also an Army National Guard and Air National Guard veteran of the Iraq War.
Children along the parade route in Sylvania wave as the marchers pass. Hundreds of people crowd both sides of Main Street from the bridge over Ten Mile Creek to Erie Street for the parade. It was followed by a service at Veterans Memorial Field. Before the parade, the city hosted a ceremony at Toledo Memorial Park.
He listened to Pastor Marshall intently, one of hundreds of people who stayed for the event.
“I am here to observe and remember those who have gone before us,” Mr. Long said. “It’s important to always remember what Memorial Day is about. It’s about those who died fighting for our freedom.”
Staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this report.
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.