Thousands gathered in downtown Springfield for the annual Memorial Day parade to honor fallen service members.
More than 90 groups marched together in the parade, totaling more than 2,400 participants and thousands more lined the parade route from Fountain Avenue to McCreight Avenue, ending at Ferncliff Cemetery.
Danielle Duncan and her family gather near the bridge over Buck Creek on North Fountain Avenue so they can get a good view of the memorial wreath that is thrown into the water. They watched this year as WWII Navy veteran Marvin Peters sent the wreath down the creek.
“In the past we used to sit farther up, but we’ve kind of migrated down here,” Duncan said. “That’s been a really good experience watching the wreath get thrown in. It definitely adds to the feel of Memorial Day.”
Memorial Day began after the Civil War to honor armed services personnel who were killed in wartime or of injuries sustained in battle.
Keith Murgatroyd, a member of the Marine Corps League and a retired Marine Reservist, marched in the parade and helped honor the fallen with a 21-gun salute at the end of the parade. He said oftentimes Memorial Day and Veterans Day are considered to have the same purpose, but the former holiday is unique on it’s own.
“This is to remember those who have died in battle or as a result of battle casualties,” Murgatroyd said.
Murgatroyd said he is thankful that Americans now stand next to their veterans, dead or alive, and support their mission to defend American’s freedoms. He said there was a time in his life that veterans did not receive this same respect.
“Now it’s great to see people say ‘thank you for your service’ and salute and stand up and cheer,” Murgatroyd said.
At the end of the two-mile long parade, a short ceremony was held at Ferncliff Cemetery. Linda Howell, a Clark County resident and retired army intelligence specialist, spoke as the keynote speaker. She addressed the crowd and reminded onlookers of the ultimate sacrifice service men and women make for their country before a 21-gun salute was made in their honor.
“If it were not for the military in this country, there would be no freedom,” Howell said. “They take an oath to support and defend … when nobody is willing to die for our freedom, there will be no freedom.”
Attorney General Mike DeWine had to cancel as the guest speaker at the last minute, said Jim Stewart, parade and ceremony chairman.