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Attendees, children taught meaning of Memorial Day in annual Toledo parade

Crowd treated to festivities honoring our fallen heroes

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    The Marine Corps honor guard carries the colors near the front of the Memorial Day parade downtown. A commemorative service was held, remembering those who died serving in the country’s armed forces. FOR A PHOTO GALLERY, GO TO TOLEDOBLADE.COM.

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    Gabriel Cepeda, 9, left, and his brother Frankie Cepeda, 7, with their mom, Rosie Cepeda, all of Toledo, wave to participants in the Memorial Day parade along Jackson Street near the grandstand.

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    Shedrick Williams, a Lucas County Veterans Service Office commissioner and member of AMVETS, carries a wreath at the ceremony at the Civic Center Mall downtown.

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    Dante Cornwell, 8, of Holland, salutes the military as service members pass him in military vehicles during the downtown parade. Many children were among the crowd on Jackson Street in front of One Government Center.

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    Staff Sgt. Jessica Davis sings ‘God Bless America’ during Toledo’s Memorial Day service downtown on Saturday.

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    The Anthony Wayne High School band took part in the parade, which marched through downtown Toledo.

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Gabriel Cepeda, 9, left, and his brother Frankie Cepeda, 7, with their mom, Rosie Cepeda, all of Toledo, wave to participants in the Memorial Day parade along Jackson Street near the grandstand.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
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Frankie and Gabriel Cepeda really wanted to see some Marines.

The brothers, 9 and 7 years old, were outfitted in matching Marine Corps dress uniforms to pay tribute to their older brother, Lance Cpl. Jonathan Cepdea, 25, who is stationed in Japan. He’s due to come home Oct. 25.

PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo’s Memorial Day parade

“They look up to him,” said the boys’ mother, Rosie Cepeda, who took her young sons to Toledo’s Memorial Day parade Saturday morning.

Before the parade’s end, the boys caught glimpses of decorated Marines who marched the downtown route in front of thousands of people, many of them waving American flags.

Among the crowd on Jackson Street, in front of One Government Center, were Anina Nash, 35, and five of her young children, all of them excitedly waving flags on long wooden dowels.

n1paradetwo

The Marine Corps honor guard carries the colors near the front of the Memorial Day parade downtown. A commemorative service was held, remembering those who died serving in the country’s armed forces. FOR A PHOTO GALLERY, GO TO TOLEDOBLADE.COM.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Enlarge | Buy This Image

Although most of the children in tow were too young to understand what the parade and Memorial Day ceremony were about, Ms. Nash, of Toledo, said she reminds them every year that “it’s for the veterans who fought in the wars and made a change in our world.”

The Memorial Day ceremony, held at the Civic Mall behind the Safety Building, recognized the many local servicemen who died while serving in the United States military.

Wreaths were laid down to open the ceremony.

Col. Craig Baker, commander of the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing at Toledo Express Airport, was the parade’s grand marshal and gave the ceremony’s keynote speech.

Memorial Day is more than just a three-day weekend, Colonel Baker said, and should be considered “an opportunity to remember the sacrifice of over 1 million brave [military men and women] who paid the ultimate price to ensure our freedom.”

To best honor them, it would be important to talk about what it means to have a career in the military and to help preserve the “warrior ethos,” he said.

“Thomas Jefferson said, ‘The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,’ ” Colonel Baker said.

“The military has always had that bold, unquenchable will to always reach higher, or to see into the next decade, or to see that there is always something worth dying for.”

Colonel Baker also said Memorial Day should be lived every day by remembering those who have died.

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Shedrick Williams, a Lucas County Veterans Service Office commissioner and member of AMVETS, carries a wreath at the ceremony at the Civic Center Mall downtown.

THE BLADE/JETTA FRASER
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“Never did they forget, through the blood and sweat of battle: America,” the colonel said. “Never did they forget, at the sound of enemy fire and torture: America. Never did they forget, with their last breath and distraught cry: America. And never did they forget the country they swore to defend: America.

“We can hear the voices of the past telling us: ‘Honor my sacrifice and duty. Remember my service. Live fully the freedoms I brought you with my own life. I did not forget you. Do not forget me.’ ”

State Rep. Mike Sheehy (D., Oregon), Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson also spoke briefly at the hours-long ceremony.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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