Florence Schlotterbeck's husband, John, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, participated in Monday's Memorial Day parade in Marietta, but that's not the only reason she came out to watch.
"We need to honor the ones that gave the ultimate," said Schlotterbeck, 64, of Marietta.
Schlotterbeck and hundreds of other people lined the parade route from Muskingum Park to the Oak Grove Cemetery Monday to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. It was one of a number of observances held throughout the Valley.
Memorial Day parades
Eighty-six-year-old Jack Workman of Marietta walked the entire route in his Naval dress whites. Workman served from 1943 to 1947 in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas and the North Atlantic Ocean.
"I like parades, and I'm very dedicated to the service," he said.
Also walking in the parade, with his family, was Marine Staff Sgt. Curtis Ferlin, a recruiter stationed in Marietta.
"It's great to honor the veterans that came before us and set the standard," Ferlin said.
At Oak Grove Cemetery, American Legion Post 64, which organized the parade, led a service focusing on the meaning of the day and honoring members who have died since last Memorial Day.
"It's not about beaches, picnics and auto races. It is a day to remember," said Barb Handschumacher, Post 64 adjutant.
By the numbers
146 members of American Legion Post 64 have died since Memorial Day 2010.
31 members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 have passed away since Memorial Day 2010.
Most of the deceased were veterans of World War II.
"We must never forget what these heroes have done and what their loved ones have lost," she said. "The widows, widowers, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters remember every day."
Handschumacher shared the story of Army Sgt. 1st Class Lance Vogeler of Savannah, Ga., who died last year while serving his 12th tour - eight in Afghanistan and four in Iraq.
After the ceremony, Handschumacher said the turnout for the parade was good but not on the level it was during her childhood.
"I remember as a kid watching the parades they were three deep lining the routes," she said.
Handschumacher attributed a decline in Memorial Day celebrating to things like the removal of prayer and not emphasizing the pledge of allegiance in schools.
"We've gone from being a nation of ... 'what's good for us' to 'what's good for me,'" she said. "And I think that's a detriment to our nation."
Ferlin said that even though Memorial Day is thought of as the unofficial kickoff to summer he believes people still remember its true purpose.
"I think the root of it is still there, the meaning of the day," he said.
In the first Marietta parade of the day, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 and others set off from Harmar Elementary School at 8 a.m.
Marietta resident Neil Fritsche, 50, watched as the parade wound its way toward Harmar Cemetery. He said he figured most people would go to the later event but he attends both.
"Beautiful morning," he said. "They don't know what they missed."
About two dozen people either watched the parade from their porches or the sidewalk or attended the ceremony at Harmar Cemetery. Members read the orders of Gen. John Logan, of the Grand Army of the Republic, in establishing "Decoration Day," which would later become Memorial Day, and read the names of members who had passed away over the last year.
Buddy and Cindy Wulfert were out early to watch their son, Alex, a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve, and Buddy's father, George, a Korean War veteran, carry flags at the head of the parade.
Buddy Wulfert said there seems to have been more interest in such parades and programs since the U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"It's a shame that it takes a war like that to bring out support," he said.
"People don't realize that we get to live the way we do because of our troops," Cindy Wulfert said.
Another parade marched through Beverly and Waterford Monday morning. About 100 people attended the Memorial Day observance at the Beverly Cemetery, with around 70 at the Waterford Cemetery remembrance, said Brad Webb, a member of American Legion Post 389.
The towns were freshly decorated for the holiday with 65 American flags installed on May 21 on poles along Ohio 60 and Ohio 339 in Beverly and Main Street in Waterford.
The flags and their brackets were obtained through a program initiated by Webb and originally expected to take five years to complete. A series of breakfast buffets and donations from community members and businesses like Thermo Fisher Scientific, along with volunteer labor by Legion members brought it to fruition in six months.
"It was quite an endeavor," Webb said.
Sons of the American Legion member Kevin Sams fabricated the brackets for the flags, and Legion member Tim Cuttshaw donated his business' bucket truck. An installation crew made up of Legion members placed the flags between 5 a.m. and noon on May 21.
The flags will remain in place through Veterans Day. Webb said he got the idea from seeng other communities with flags flying.
"You may be having a bad day, and you drive through that town and you see those flags flying and you realize maybe you don't have it so bad, or it puts a smile on your face or takes your mind away from it for a while," Webb said.
There are plans in the works to expand the flag displays to secondary streets, he said.
More than 100 people attended the program organized by American Legion Post 159 at the Riverview Cemetery in Williamstown Monday, said Post Commander Joseph Nicholas. The heat might have kept some people away, he said, but Williamstown residents were in the proper spirit for the holiday.
"There's a lot of flags out here on the city streets," Nicholas said.
The ceremony included an a capella performance of "God Bless America" by Marietta resident Lisa Vore. Cameron Beck, 6, and Aiden Meeks, 3, were honored as Miss and Mr. Buddy Poppy.