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Brig. Gen. Paula G. Thornhill, a Sylvania native, knows Memorial Day has significant meaning for the country and was excited when asked to help celebrate the holiday with Toledo this weekend.
"I think Memorial Day is all about paying tribute to those who have gone before us," General Thornhill said. "It has been a way, ever since it was first started after the Civil War, to say thank you."
General Thornhill, commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, was selected to serve as grand marshal of the area's largest salute to veterans, scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow in downtown Toledo.
Veterans organizations, military units and vehicles, marching bands, the Shriners, area law enforcement, and firefighters will all participate in the parade that begins at Monroe and Summit streets.
General Thornhill, a 1975 graduate of the former Sylvania High School, was asked by the American Legion in Toledo to lead the parade.
After riding the parade route in a vehicle, the general will be at the reviewing stand along with other military officials and Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner in front of Government Center on Jackson Street.
Robert Schmitt, a Vietnam War veteran and a parade organizer, said he expects more than 5,000 people to line the route.
"This is a special day for us to remember what veterans have done for us," Mr. Schmitt said.
A memorial service will begin after the parade at 11:30 a.m. at the Civic Center Mall downtown.
Four fighter jets from Ohio Air National Guard's 180th Fighter Wing are set for a flyover as the ceremony begins, Mr. Schmitt said.
Joseph H. Zerbey IV, president and general manager of The Blade, a sponsor of the parade, said he was delighted General Thornhill accepted the invitation to be the grand marshal.
The parade's future was uncertain last year when Toledo Councilman D. Michael Collins criticized Mayor Finkbeiner in October for approving a contract just below the $10,000 threshold - which would otherwise require council approval - to contract with a Perrysburg resident to coordinate and organize downtown events, such as the Memorial Day parade and July 4 fireworks show.
Many on council have made it clear that money for a coordinator in 2009 would be impossible because the city still has to cut millions from its general fund budget because of a steep drop in the expected income taxes.
The demise early last year of CitiFest Inc., which for 20 years staged such events as parades and Rally by the River, left some wondering who would organize the city's major outdoor events.
Toledo Police issued a notice yesterday to its officers of the need for extra personnel to work on July 4th, when thousands gather at on the banks of the Maumee River for a fireworks show.
In addition to the parade and ceremony in downtown Toledo, other Memorial Day and events - all on Monday - in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan include:
A ceremony at Historic Woodlawn Cemetery that will start at 9:45 a.m., rain or shine.
Ottawa Hills Memorial Park, the Zenobia Highlanders, and VFW Post 2898 will pay tribute with a traditional salute at 9 a.m. at the cemetery, 4210 West Central Ave.
Parade, 11 a.m., from the National Guard Armory on Maumee Street to Monument Park, where a ceremony will follow.
Memorial service, 11 a.m. at Lambertville Cemetery.
Memorial services at the Berkey Cemetery at 9 a.m.; at St. Elizabeth s Cemetery, Richfield Center, at 9:30 a.m.; Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Marygrove at 10 a.m., and Wolfinger Cemetery at Secor Metropark at 10:30 a.m.
Parade, 11 a.m. from the post office on South Lane Street to Pleasant View Cemetery, with a memorial service to follow.
Parade, 10:30 a.m., from Washington Street at Main Street to Court Street. The march continues north on Thurstin Avenue and east on Merry Avenue to services at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Parade, 9:45 a.m. from Dundee High School on Viking Drive to Wolverine Park on M-50 for a ceremony.
Parade, 10 a.m., from West Front Street to South Main Street to West Main Cross Street to a service at Maple Grove Cemetery.
Parade, 10 a.m., from Front Street to Rodger Young Park.
Memorial service, 10 a.m., at Fountain Cemetery.
Memorial service at 9 a.m. at Clay Township Cemetery. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Genoa High School auditorium.
Mass at 8 a.m. at St. Michael s Catholic Church, with a memorial service at 9 a.m. at the downtown square.
Parade, 9:30 a.m., from Maumee United Methodist Church on Sackett Street to Union Elementary School.
Parade, 2 p.m., starting at Jones Avenue and South Monroe Street and continuing north on South Monroe, ending with a wreath-laying ceremony and service at the bridge over the River Raisin near St. Mary s Park.
The Northwood Community Veterans Foundation will be holding a ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Freedom is not Free Memorial in front of the Northwood Municipal Building. A luncheon will follow at the Northwood VFW Post, 102 W. Andrus Rd.
Parade, 11 a.m. will proceed South on Church Street to Water Street to Flat Iron Park where a brief ceremony will be held, then proceed to the Bayou Bridge to honor veterans lost at sea. From the bridge the parade will proceed to the Veterans Memorial Circle in Union Cemetery for a memorial service.
Memorial services at Willow Cemetery at 9 a.m.; St. John s Cemetery at 9:30 a.m.; North Oregon Cemetery at 10 a.m.; St. Ignatius Cemetery at 10:30 a.m.; Oakwood Cemetery at 11 a.m.
Parade, 10:30 a.m., beginning at Main and Perry streets and continuing to the courthouse for a memorial service.
Parade, 10 a.m., starting at Louisiana Avenue and Fifth Street and continuing to Fort Meigs/Union Cemetery. The parade will stop at Hood Park to lay a wreath at the monument for those killed in service.
Parade, 10 a.m. at Pettisville Park and continuing to Pettisville Cemetery, where a memorial service will follow. A community potluck will be held at the park at 11:30 a.m. In case of inclement weather, memorial service will be held in the school at 10 a.m.
Parade, 9 a.m., from Ohio Veterans Home to Oakland Cemetery and Memorial Park.
Parade, 10:30 a.m., from Crestwood Elementary School to Veterans Memorial on Broadway to Memorial Park on Main Street.
Memorial services at 9 a.m. at Toledo Memorial Park, 6832 Monroe St., A parade will start at 10 a.m. from Lourdes College. It will go up Convent Boulevard to Main Street, then north to Erie Street and to Veterans Memorial Field for a ceremony at 11 a.m.
Parade, 9:30 a.m., from City Hall on Clinton Street to Wauseon Cemetery on West Elm Street, where a memorial service will follow.