CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's annual Memorial Day Parade was held Saturday along State Street.
The parade followed a wreath-laying event at Daley Plaza, which remembered men and women in the military who were killed. The event was briefly disrupted by demonstrators as retiring Memorial Day committee chair, former alderman James Balcer took to the podium.
"Memorial Day, for us, is for celebrating to courage commitment and sacrifice those men and women who were willing to risk everything for the freedoms that we enjoy," said Major General Charles Whittington Jr., a deputy commanding general first for the U.S. Army.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was among politicians, dignitaries, and military officials honoring the deeds and the deaths of fallen service members.
Like in years past, yellow roses were presented as mementos of respect to the gold star families, the parents, spouses, siblings and children who've lost a loved one to war.
Susan Wiesczorek and husband Ray lost their 24-year-old son, an Illinois Army National Guard Sgt. Robert Weinger.
"I think it's amazing what Chicago does for the fallens' families," she said.
The traditional wreath laying was followed by a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps."
A sorrow mood gave way to celebration as the largest annual Memorial Day parade in the country stepped off down State Street.
Dozens of military marching bands, veterans groups and floats took part in the parade as thousands lined the streets. About 6,000 junior ROTC cadets also were featured in the parade.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated in the years following the Civil War. It became a federal holiday in 1971.