With the temperature was already climbing toward the 90s late Monday morning, several hundred people lined Marietta's streets for the annual Memorial Day parade.
"We always try to get to the parade," said Molly Fiedler of Marietta who brought her 5-year-old son, Brody Alexander, to watch Monday's procession.
"On the way here I was explaining that his great-grandfather served during World War II," she said. "And (Brody's) grandfather was in the Marines, so he seems to take an interest in these things."
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Vietnam veteran Wayne West salutes the American Flag being held by Sons of the Veterans of the Civil War Fearing Camp during Memorial Day ceremonies at the Harmar Cemetery Monday morning.
A couple blocks away, Claire Schenkel, 8, and 5-year-old sister, Katelyn, also from Marietta, sat on the curb, watching the parade move along Putnam St. as their grandmother, Debbie Karas stood nearby.
"I think coming down to see the parade helps them understand what Memorial Day is all about," Karas said.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson said the Memorial Day parade and ceremonies is a good time to reflect on the freedoms we all enjoy in this country.
Marking Memorial Day
Since the late 1950s, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, the 1,200 soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones in Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
In 1951, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of St. Louis, Mo., began placing flags on the 150,000 graves at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery as an annual Good Turn, a practice that continues to this day.
Beginning in 1998, on the Saturday before the observed Memorial Day, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts place a candle at each of approximately 15,300 grave sites of soldiers buried at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park on Marye's Heights in Virginia.
In 2004 Washington D.C. held its first Memorial Day parade in over 60 years.
"It's a day to remember that freedom really isn't free, and millions of Americans have died over the years to preserve our freedom," he said. "This is a day to remember their sacrifices."
Johnson also noted that this is the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.
Wayne and Maddie West of Marr both served during the Vietnam conflict.
"We're here to honor our fellow veterans and all who have passed before," Wayne said.
His wife agreed.
"We just want to honor all of our friends and loved ones who served and died," she said.
The day began with the annual parade through the Harmar district to the historic Harmar Cemetery where city officials and members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5108 and Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Fearing Camp, gathered with community members for a short ceremony.
Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews read from General John Logan's General Order 11 of 1868 that declared the first observation of Memorial Day to honor both the Union and Confederate dead.
The order, in part, reads:
"Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation's gratitude, the soldier's and sailor's widow and orphan."
The memorial included a 21-gun salute by VFW Post 5108's honor guard. Another ceremony on the Putnam Bridge, to honor those who died at sea, also included a 21-gun salute as a wreath was tossed into the waters of the Muskingum River.
Tony Durm, committee chair for Cub Scout Pack 207 and Boy Scout Troop 207, said both groups participated in Monday's Memorial Day events.
Several Cubs marched in the main parade from East Muskingum Park to Oak Grove Cemetery.
The Boy Scouts assisted with a flag retirement ceremony at American Legion Post 64 near the cemetery on Wooster Street following the parade.
Durm said the scouts helped build a fire to burn any old American flags that were turned in for the ceremony.
"It's the proper way to retire a flag that's worn or faded beyond use," he said. "The American Legion officers inspect and decommission the flags in a ceremony before they are burned."
Marietta resident Bob Newman said Memorial Day should be celebrated 365 days a year.
"People should make it a point to be thankful for the soldiers who sacrificed for their country," he said. "And may we never forget the fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers of those who never returned home."