The theme was “Honor the Fallen Heroes,” and the names of those who served were displayed on many vehicles in the parade. Red, white and blue were the day’s colors on clothing and American flags that waved throughout the crowd.
One of the youngest grasping a flag was 2-year-old Aria Dean in her stroller alongside grandmother Terri Perkins, who traveled up from Fairborn, where she returned for that city’s parade later on.
An Honor Flight volunteer, Perkins enjoys the atmosphere and is the spouse of a retired military member who came at the invitation of fellow volunteer Greg Schafer of Springfield, who is active in various military veteran events.
“Aria loves to wave to the kids and see the people. She’s a waver,” said Perkins, who also wants Aria to appreciate patriotism and being part of a community at an early age.
“This to me is more normal,” Perkins said of the parade atmosphere, as opposed to 2021 under pandemic restrictions.
The parade began with the playing of “Taps,” and cruisers from the Springfield Police Department and Clark County Sheriff led the way. Close behind in a military jeep was the 2022 Grand Marshal, Myra Gaskins, a veteran of Desert Storm and Springfield South High graduate.
Among the popular parts of the parade for kids were the numerous freebies such as candy and stickers. The youngsters scrambled for the sweets, which rivaled trick or treat for the volume passed out by various paraders.
Parade participants included local services, businesses, school groups, sports teams, historical groups, politicians running for office and others. Some represented new events debuting this summer, including the upcoming Springfield Jazz and Blues Festival in August and the first Black Heritage Festival in Urbana in June.
U.S. Army veterans and brothers Jim and Tom Doughman were decked out in shirts and hats showing they were proud to serve, American flags in hand. Jim served from 1964-66 and Tom from 1970-74.
The brothers enjoy the atmosphere, but remind people not to forget the meaning of Memorial Day and everyday sacrifices of U.S. military members.
“We’ve got to support our troops,” said Jim Doughman. “Every time I see a veteran, I shake his hand and thank him for his service. Sometimes it seems only vets do that with other vets.”
An aspect they especially like is the togetherness — a crowd and participants as one without political or social divides.
“We have Memorial Day and July Fourth and a few other days when we celebrate together and remember our veterans and freedoms. We need to remember that the other 360 days too,” Tom Doughman said.