LIMA — Memorial Day is a day to remember the nation’s fallen veterans, and the region showed proper respect with events throughout the area.
Lima’s annual Memorial Day parade started at Northland Plaza and continued down Main Street to Town Square. The parade featured more than 70 participants and included high school bands, tanks from the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center and many businesses from around the area.
Immediately following the parade, the event concluded at Memorial Hall, where a ceremony was held to honor and recognize all the veterans who have served in the area. Just inside the hall, the audience understood the importance of veterans and what their sacrifices mean. The event concluded with the traditional laying of wreaths around a mock grave of a fallen soldier.
Many communities in the region paid their respects, including events in Alger, Bluffton, Gilboa, Harrod, Lafayette, Ottawa, Rockport and Waynesfield.
Cheryl Wehner, representing Elks Lodge 54 in Lima, said many Elks members served in the armed forces, and she believed all should be recognized for the dedication to service.
“Veterans are a big part of the Elks service, and we have many who volunteer their time,” Wehner said. “Today is a day to recognize those veterans who are still with us and to remember all the fallen soldiers throughout history.”
The United States began celebrating Decorating day after the Civil War to mark the Union and Confederate soldiers who died. By the 20th century, the United States began recognizing all men and women who died while serving in the military.
The theme of every Memorial Day is to thank and remember all of the hard work, sacrifices and dedication many must go through to keep our freedoms and liberties alive. The Rev. Brian Lee, who gave the opening and closing prayers, was adamant in his belief that we are not the society we know today without remembering those who fought to protect our country.
“What we are honoring here today is a free society,” Lee said. “I can assure you it didn’t come free without the struggles and sacrifice given by those who wear the colors of our armed forces on their sleeves.”
After opening statements from Lima Mayor David Berger, the ceremony included words from the Master of Ceremonies for the parade, Dustin Stewart.
Stewart, who was serving in the Army, gave a rousing speech about the trials and tribulations any man or woman faces while serving. He spoke about the loss of life, as his best friend and girlfriend’s brother died while in combat. He also spoke about the pride you have while serving your country. Stewart’s speech served as a reminder of how important those who serve truly are, how they should never be forgotten and not only remembered on one specific day.
Many in attendance at Memorial Hall had proudly served throughout the Army, Navy and Marine Corps, spanning from the Vietnam War to those currently serving in the armed forces. Bill King, who served as a Marine for six years in Vietnam War, is always appreciative of those who honor him and many others on Memorial Day.
“Memorial Day serves as a reminder for all of us to honor all the veterans who have dedicated themselves to protecting our personal freedoms throughout the history of our nation,” King said. “I am glad people make it a point to honor veterans on this day, and we are proud to serve them and everyone who lives in this great country.”