Springfield’s Memorial Day parade is touted as one of the country’s biggest and residents who attended Monday said they believe it’s due to the strong support for the military in the community.
More than 2,600 people marched in downtown Springfield on Monday for the annual parade and more than 120 groups participated, including multiple fire departments, high school bands and businesses.
It ended with a service at Ferncliff Cemetery to remember those who were killed while serving. The theme for 2017 was, “Honor, Duty and Country.”
“The community really buys in and they really enjoy it,” parade Commander Jon Stewart said.
He took over the planning from his father, Jim Stewart, last year. Both his father and brother were in the Marines, he said, so this is his way of honoring them.
“They’ve sacrificed for all of us,” he said.
This year Stewart tried to increase the pace of the parade.
“We talked to a couple groups about speeding up so they don’t stop and delay the parade,” he said.
He also created a check-in station to make sure all vehicles in the parade had a sign with the name of a military member.
“They’re actually honoring a veteran. It’s not for promotion, it’s for honoring,” he said.
It’s a tradition local veterans are grateful for.
“It means everything that the community takes time off to recognize all the veterans that have served,” Springfield resident Doug Barletto said.
He served in the Navy for six years, he said, and now that he’s retired, attends the Springfield Memorial Day parade every year.
“Just about every organization in the city and the surrounding communities participate in it,” he said.
And for residents like Lisa Fain, it brings the community closer.
“It’s just a really good feeling to see your community come together and clap and be happy,” Fain said. “We need more of it.”
She grew up going to the parade with her father, she said, a World War II veteran. This year her daughter marched in the parade with the Clark-Shawnee High School band.
“It’s awesome,” she said.
Stewart said he wants the community to remember the true meaning of the day, remembering the military members who have died.
“We’re able to have those celebrations because of the people who sacrificed for us,” he said.
Anyone who wants to participate in the parade next year can reach out to Stewart on the group’s Facebook page, Springfield Ohio Memorial Day Parade.
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