CHICAGO (WLS) -- Everyone wants to have fun during the long holiday weekend, but it's important to remember the reason for Memorial Day.
On Saturday, Chicago honored the men and women who serve in the military with a ceremony and a parade.
"They risk their lives for things we take for granted every day," said Gayinga Washington, who attended Saturday's ceremony.
Hundreds gathered in Daley Plaza this morning to acknowledge the sacrifices made by those who have died in defense of our country.
"All we have is memories and we need to keep those memories alive," said Gold Star Family representative Jim Frazier.
For the first time as Chicago's mayor, Lori Lightfoot joined those remembering the deeds and the deaths of fallen service members.
"We will always honor your loved one's service," Mayor Lightfoot said. "We will always understand your need for community and support."
Yellow roses were presented as mementos of respect to the Gold Star Families, people who have lost a loved one to war.
Thomas Yarber's oldest brother, 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal David Yarber, was killed in Vietnam in 1968 - when he was just a kid.
"To see everybody here to honor David means so much to our family," Yarber said.
The traditional wreath laying was followed by a 21-gun salute.
But moments later, the ceremony gave way to celebration as one of the largest annual Memorial Day parades stepped off down State Street.
With Army Reserve Major General Marion Garcia as grand marshal, thousands lined the parade route.
"I'm so excited now for first Memorial Day here in America," said parade attendee Tsengel Altangaban.
There were dozens of floats, veterans groups and military marching bands making for a day to celebrate America.
"It's our country and this is what matters," said parade attendee Hannah Erdos.
There will be more remembrances and celebrations throughout the weekend.
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