"We take time to remember Memorial Day for what it's supposed to be," said Jim Coe, a Marine Corps veteran and co-chairman of the parade, which is sponsored by American Legion Post 238. "It's not about barbecues. It's about those who have gone before us and helped keep freedom alive."
Walt Butler, commander of American Legion Post 491 in Ceres, Calif., said there's "a lot of sadness" to the day, which too many people consider just a three-day weekend. Butler's Navy aircrew lost 10 members during the Vietnam War.
When Don Crippen gave the keynote speech Monday at the dedication of the newly relocated Beadle County Veterans Memorial in Huron, S.D., he was thinking about his Vietnam buddy Horace Holbrook.
A rubbing of Holbrook's name from the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., is in Crippen's office at First United Methodist Church, where he is pastor. Crippen served 20 years as an Army chaplain. "I'm almost 63. My buddy will always be 21," he said.
Ohio's Fairfield City Schools observed Memorial Day in unusual fashion — by holding classes. Just 56% of the district's 10,100 students showed up, said Board of Education President Jerome Kearns. The Memorial Day session was scheduled to make up for snow-day cancellations.
"It was a very difficult decision," but holding classes Monday was "absolutely not" a sign of disrespect, Kearns said. "A lot of kids who go to school today are going to be exposed to things they have never been exposed to on Memorial Day."