A bright sun warmed American flags across the region early today as Memorial Day services honored those who gave their lives in service to the United States.
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 parade today.
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,” Specialist Bryan said. “He’s buried here, right over yonder.”
Sgt. Clifford E. Bryan was killed in the Vietman 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.”
Pfc. 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.
In Perrysburg, where another Memorial Day event location was held, thousands of people gathered in that northern Wood County city‘s downtown for the start of the parade that wound its way to the Fort Meigs Cemetery.
The memorials included a 21-gun salute in honor of the area's veterans.
Perrysburg Mayor Michael Olmstead told those who were gathered that he was thrilled with the turnout.
"The community just rallied behind the event," the mayor said. "We understand that freedom is not free."
Specialist Bryan, who tends to his brother‘s grave, knows exactly how much freedom costs.
Memorial Day services are important to him.
“It means everything,” he said. “No more, no less. Everything.”
Staff writer Mike Sigov contributed to this report.