Parades, ceremonies mark Memorial Day

May 30, 2011 4:37:14 PM PDT
Parades, wreath ceremonies, and service events marked the day to remember those who served their country.

One of the largest Memorial Day parades took place in northwest suburban Arlington Heights

While all Memorial Day parades and ceremonies honor those who have served and sacrificed their lives, the focus for two suburbs was honoring world war two veterans.

Because not many in that generation are still living, many say it is important for younger generations to hear their stories of sacrifice.

A bell rang for each Lombard soldier lost in war. Many of the names read fought in World War II.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the suburban Memorial Day ceremony honored veterans like William Chittenden. The 91-year-old spent four years as a prisoner of war. He emotionally reminded the audience what he fought for.

"Your American freedom is your most precious possession," said Chittenden.

The Book family brought their young children to the ceremony to educate their children on American history and values.

"It's an opportunity to come out here and try to explain what previous generations of people have done and sacrificed," said Dustin Book.

In Arlington Heights, Aristo Nicholson was applauded for his sacrifice. The 90-year-old World War II veteran was presented with the Bronze Star metal and Purple Heart by Illinois Senator Mark Kirk.

"I thank you all for showing up and showing the love you have given us all," said Nicholson.

The ceremony was preceded by a parade where people lined the streets of Arlington Heights to salute those who have served.

In Lombard, World War II veterans watched as a wreath was laid and taps played. People said that ceremonies like the one held in the western suburb are good history lessons for young Americans.

"I think it's very good they have these ceremonies like this because a lot of people - they didn't even know about the wars that we've been in," said Finn Warland, a World War II veteran.

"They need to know the sacrifices that they have been through - and of course the sacrifices at home, too."

While ceremonies in Lombard and Arlington Heights featured World War II veterans, the men and women who served in all of America's wars were not forgotten.

Senator Mark Kirk reminded Arlington Heights residents about those soldiers serving right now in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another Memorial Day celebration took place at a north suburban retirement community.

Residents from Sedgebrook retirement community in Lincolnshire gathered for a celebration Monday.

Their ceremony commemorated Memorial Day with music. There was also a lecture by World War II veteran Al Johnson. He spoke about the history of Memorial Day.

Sedgebrook sits on a 92-acre campus in the northern suburb.

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