PHOTO STORY: Memorial Day festivities return to Dowagiac with ceremony, parade

DOWAGIAC — A ceremony not seen since 2019 made its welcome return on Monday.

In what was the largest community gathering in more than a year, hundreds of community members and participants lined Front Street in downtown Dowagiac for the 2021 Memorial Day Parade.

Organized by the city of Dowagiac and the Dowagiac Masonic Lodge, 121 S. Front St., Dowagiac, the Monday morning festivities began with city officials thanking everyone for attending the event.

“This morning, we’d like to thank all of the participants and organizers,” said councilwoman Danielle Lucas. “Today we gather to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country throughout its history. We thank the Masons that we are here today to honor those who gathered here today in their honor.”

City councilman Pat Bakeman then introduced VFW Post 1855 Commander Bill Bobik, whose message to those in attendance was to “remember the reason.”

“The men and women who have given their lives and service to this nation are heroes,” he said. “When their country called, they answered. We’re here today to honor heroes, to remember their achievements, courage and dedication and to say thank you for their sacrifice.”

The Dowagiac Union High School Marching Band performed “Let Freedom Ring” before the opening ceremony concluded with a speech this year’s guest speaker, VFW District 7 Commander Bill Thick Jr., who gave parade-goers a brief history of how Memorial Day came to be.

“Today is somber and a little bit sad,” he said. “But despite the sadness, there is also a bittersweet feeling of knowing the sacrifices are for the greater good of our country and we will benefit from the freedoms paid for by these sacrifices.”

Following the speech, the parade began in earnest and featured representatives from the Dowagiac Police Department, local fire departments, 2021 Cass County Miss Agriculture USA Queen Shaelyn Bundy and more.

Following the parade, many in attendance made their way to Riverside Cemetery for a ceremony honoring the local men and women who passed away after serving their country. The ceremony featured a patriotic musical selection from both the DUHS marching band and choir as well as a performance of “Amazing Grace” from the Kalamazoo Pipe Band.

Councilman Bakeman was pleased with how Memorial Day festivities played out.

“I thought it was well-orchestrated by the Masonic Lodge and the city,” he said. “It just goes to show that our community is a tight-knit community that knows how to collaborate and put on a show for our fallen veterans.”

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