Annual Niles parade honors city’s heroes

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Crowds lined both sides of Main Street in Niles Monday as the city's colorful Memorial Day Parade made its way through the city and up to the Silverbrook Cemetery.
Those who continued to the Silverbrook Abbey mausoleum for the Memorial Day ceremony heard two people speak about the importance of celebrating Memorial Day, and the importance of remembering those who have fought and died for our country.
Rebecca Deloof from the Veterans Administration started her speech by honoring the sacrifice many families and soldiers in this country have made, most recently in relation to the war in Iraq.
She also prayed for the young American soldiers located around the world who try to bring peace in countries that aren't even their own.
Before Deloof continued her speech, the Niles High School band played "America the Beautiful."
When the band was done playing, Deloof spoke about the war in Iraq saying people here should be proud of the countrys young soldiers who "have seen more suffering and death than they should have in their short lifetime."
With the war in Iraq in mind, however, Deloof also used the opportunity to speak about the problems many veterans, in particular Vietnam War veterans, face when applying for health care.
She said the Veterans Administration will continue their work to pass a mandatory health bill that will assist the veterans.
Before Bill Wenger, a World War II veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor spoke, Miss Poppy recited "In Flanders Field."
The poem, written by Lt. Col. John McRae, of the Canadian Army, is a lasting legacy of the terrible World War I battle in the Ypres salient, Belgium, in the spring of 1915.
Wenger, who at the ceremony introduced World War II veterans and Pearl Harbor Survivors Robert Flaherty, Watervliet, and John Defields, Coloma, not only used his speech to honor the Americans who have fought and died in wars, but also to remind people why Memorial Day is celebrated.
He said founded in 1868, Memorial Day was set aside in recognition of the ones who had fallen in the Civil War.
But to keep the tradition going, young people must be reminded of those who have fought and sacrificed their lives for the country, he said.
He said growing up, he watched as veterans from the Civil War and the Spanish War got older and passed away.
And that's why Memorial Day is important, to make sure they are remembered, he said.
During the ceremony, John McLaughlin, American Legion Post 26 Commander, and Dorothy McLaughlin, past Fourth District auxiliary president, placed the wreath on the Veteran's Grave.
Veterans from the American Legion, Post 26, made up the gun salute squad.

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