Chicago celebrates coming Memorial Day

May 29, 2010 4:11:53 PM PDT
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, but it is also a holiday to celebrate the men and women of the U.S. military.Chicago area residents and visitors did just that along State Street Saturday with the Memorial Day Parade, one of the country's biggest.

Ahead of yet another Memorial Day, Chicago honored those who have sacrificed in defense of the United States.

" A soldier in the crowded and bustling streets of Baghdad, an airman is flying a long and dangerous critical mission, a sailor is far from his home and family. They do this for us," said Lt. General David Huntoon Jr. of the U.S. Army.

Mayor Daley joined service men and women, their families and others for the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the eternal flame.

"We remember the generations of sacrifice made by the armed forces and their families, and we continue to pray for those who are now serving on our behalf," the mayor said.

More solemn dedications gave way later Saturday to the festive as one of the largest Memorial Day parades in the nation thundered down State Street.

"I live in London, in England, and we would never see anything like this.Troops in Afghanistan and places, but you would never see this," said Mary Staples of London, England.

This year's annual event had a theme of honoring military families, while acknowledging the many Illinois residents who have recently died fighting against terrorism.

"It's awesome. It's an awesome feeling to have the people's support. All of the people here are appreciative," said Staff Sgt. Caleka Booker, who served in Iraq.

The Warrior Watch Riders honored Vietnam veteran Sgt. Carl Bryant with a surprise ceremony. The Purple Heart recipient, who lost his wife last year, got a belated welcome home as a hero.

For those who were not able to watch Saturday's parade in person, coverage of the parade will be broadcast Sunday night at 11:35 p.m. on ABC7 and will also be available on-demand Monday at ABC7Chicago.com.


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