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MEMORIAL DAY OBSERVANCES

City remembers heroes ‘who didn’t come back’

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    Navy CWO 4 Michael Joseph, left, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Vidal Valentin stand at attention after placing the wreath during the annual Memorial Day service at the Civic Center Mall.

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    Commander Kendall ‘Doc ’ Roth, left, of the American Legion Riders of Fulton County,shakes hands with Robert Payton, Jr., 3, and his father, Robert, of Florida.

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    U.S. Navy members march down North Summit Street while holding the colors during the annual Memorial Day parade in Toledo.

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    Pam Hays, left, hugs Marlee Eckert, 10, of Waterville, whose father, Sgt. Andy Eckert, died in Iraq, after the two placed a wreath at the memorial during the Memorial Day service at Civic Center Mall. Marlee was just 20 months old when she lost her father.

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  • n1wave-10

    of Isaiah Pullella, 15, and his brother Tyler Pullella, 4, of Toledo wave flags and wait as the next round of parade participants makes its way down the street.

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25n1vidal

Navy CWO 4 Michael Joseph, left, and Navy Lt. Cmdr. Vidal Valentin stand at attention after placing the wreath during the annual Memorial Day service at the Civic Center Mall.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Carrying a bundle of small American Flags, Marine veteran Roy Barnes finished Toledo’s downtown Memorial Day parade route and took his seat in front of the city’s monument honoring those lost in combat.

“You have to remember that this is Memorial Day and you have to remember, it’s not for us. It’s for the guys who are not here,” said Mr. Barnes, 84. “The guys who are here are not the heroes. The heroes are the ones who didn’t come back.”

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He was one of dozens of veterans among about 100 people at a solemn ceremony after the parade in front of the Civic Center Mall eternal flame and monument engraved with a message: “A Grateful City pays tribute to its honored dead.”

Mr. Barnes, a member of the Korean War Veteran Group, paid special respect to Cpl. Harold W. Reed, a Korean War casualty who would be buried later Saturday in Toledo’s Ottawa Hills Memorial Park after 63 years of anonymity at a military cemetery in Hawaii.

25n1biker

Commander Kendall ‘Doc ’ Roth, left, of the American Legion Riders of Fulton County,shakes hands with Robert Payton, Jr., 3, and his father, Robert, of Florida.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“At least he has finally come home,” Ms. Barnes said.

n1navy-9

U.S. Navy members march down North Summit Street while holding the colors during the annual Memorial Day parade in Toledo.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Lt. Cmdr. Vidal Valentin, commanding officer of the Navy Operational Support Center in Perrysburg Township and the parade’s grand marshal, said during the service that the United States’ protection of freedom and way of life was “bought under the price of blood.”

“What makes this day so dear to us, and offer our deepest respect to the families who have lost their loved ones, while they served, it’s not the fact that they died, but that they died serving their country,” Commander Valentin said.

Wreaths were placed at each of the monuments during the service. Ten-year-old Marlee Freedom Eckert, whose father was killed in Iraq by an improvised explosive device, laid a wreath during the ceremony. Sgt. Andy Eckert was killed when Marlee was just 20 months old, and he was only 24.

The service, organized by the volunteer Toledo-Lucas County Memorial Day Association, also featured other solemn moments, including a bell-ringing ceremony, bagpipes, and singing.

Mayor D. Michael Collins, a Marine veteran, recalled for the crowd how his father moved to the United States from Ireland and enlisted in the Army.

“He came home, thank God, or I wouldn’t be here,” Mayor Collins said. “He is in my memory. This is for him.”

n1wave-10

of Isaiah Pullella, 15, and his brother Tyler Pullella, 4, of Toledo wave flags and wait as the next round of parade participants makes its way down the street.

THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT
Enlarge | Buy This Image

For the parade leading up to the memorial service, an obviously patriotic crowd staked out spots along the route as police motorcycles revved up and led a long and loud procession of marching bands, military vehicles, and representatives from active duty military. Two missiles were towed along the route, including one marked “Nike-Hercules Missile 1959-1971.”

Master Sgt. Keith Holliker of the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing pulled his two sons, ages 4 and 6, in a cart while marching in the parade. Alongside them was his wife, who is also in the air guard.

“This gives us a way to come out and show support and show that we are in the community,” he said.

Observers waved American flags, clapped, and cheered.

“We need to remember those who lost their lives and be supportive,” said Ed Skinner, a Navy veteran from Ottawa Hills. “We need to remember and this parade is great because Toledo is always very supportive.”

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171 or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.

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