GENEVA — The sounds of Patriotic tunes could be heard blocks away as the Geneva High School band, Cub Scouts, the Blue Star Mothers and a Color Guard paraded by dozens of people lining the streets Monday morning.
Bud Martin, a former Marine who served off the coast of Vietnam and Cambodia, said he attended because he is a proud American and Marine.
“I like to remember the people who sacrificed their lives so we can have a better life,” Martin said while waiting for the parade to wind its way up Eastweood Street to City Cemetery.
Rick Arndt served 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was one of the people chosen to place a wreath in memory of soldiers.
He said he comes to remember the fallen.
“(I come to remember) my friends that aren’t here right now,” Arndt said.
Vicki Morrissette, president of Chapter 57 of the Blue Star Mothers, said the event is important not only for those who have died but those presently serving in the military.
“The sacrifice these guys make is unfathomable. We are honored to be here on their behalf,” she said.
Geneva VFW Chapter President Ben Hicks addressed several hundred people in the shaded cemetery decorated with flags.
“We are here to honor all those who gave their lives in defense of our country and every single freedom we have,” he said.
Geneva High School history teacher Donald Shymske said he tries to instill an understanding of the importance of the sacrifices generations of men and women have made for our country. He said the “birth” of Memorial Day stems from Gen. John J. Logan, who spoke at an event April 29, 1866 in Carbondale, Illinois.
A similar event took place six days later in Waterloo, New York. Logan, as the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic — the fraternal organization of Union Civil War Veterans — issued a General Order that initiated the first national observance for honoring Civil War dead.
“Decoration Day” as it was originally called was stipulated as May 30 with the purpose of placing flowers on graves of veterans, according to a Civil War Profiles blog.
Arlington National Cemetery hosted the first “Decoration Day” with 5,000 people attending, the blog states.
John Hicks, a lay leader at the Geneva Church of God, provided a prayer at Monday’s ceremony.
He reflected on his grandfather’s service in World War I, his father’s service in World War II and the many areas his three sons were stationed during their time in the military.
“Never let us forget, or minimize, the price they paid. ... Protect those serving around the world today,” he said.