CHICAGO – Service members joined residents of Chicago and surrounding cities Saturday in downtown Chicago in order to commemorate the lives of those fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation and American freedom.
With this year marking 70 years since the conclusion of World War II, the event’s mission remains the same, to bring awareness to all the men and women who have paid the ultimate price for freedom to our nation.
Army Brig. Gen. Alicia Tate-Nadeau, Illinois National Guard’s first female general was the grand marshal for the parade which stretched from the intersection of State Street and Lake Street in the Chicago Loop and was host to dozens of high school Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) units, marching bands and veteran support groups.
“That’s the most amazing thing, to see so many Americans, saying thank you to our fallen heroes,” Nadeau said.
Before the parade there was a wreath laying ceremony at Daley Plaza to honor Chicago Gold Star families who lost sons, daughters, brothers and sisters in service to America; Mayor Rahm Emmanuel was there to pay respects during the solemn ceremony and to reiterate his promise to getting veterans off the streets of Chicago.
“No veteran in the city of Chicago will ever call Lower Wacker (Drive) home again,” Emmanuel said.
Memorial Day can be a time to reflect on those veteran’s lives, but also a time for some to make a commitment to be the next generation of America’s tough, smart elite warrior.
Float number 85 of the event contained 48 members of various military delayed entry programs, including 12 members with Marine Recruiting Station Chicago. The float paused at the reviewing area just long enough for a mass swear-in to the United States Armed Forces.
Marine Staff Sgt. Jahir Garcia, Staff Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Recruiting Substation North Center was in formation with those future Marines.
“It was pretty motivating to see the poolees start marching and how they were pretty nervous in the beginning,” Garcia said. “When we got to the viewing stand and they finished swearing in and started stepping off again, they just walked a little taller and you could tell that they were filled with pride and joy.”
Memorial Day is however, a time to remember those who have served and given everything in order for us to have the freedoms we do.
This year, during all the BBQ cookouts, pool parties and summer activities, take a moment to reflect on the men and women who no longer have the opportunity to celebrate their freedom.
All gave some, some gave all.