By JOY BROWN
Findlay’s Memorial Day parade and ceremonies on a warm, sunny Monday focused on including and honoring many people.
Ceremonies at the Main Street bridge were followed by the traditional parade to Maple Grove Cemetery, where additional ceremonies were held.
Although initially designated 43 years ago as a federal holiday to honor men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military, Memorial Day events have come to include tributes to others, too, while emphasizing patriotism.
“The flag waves proudly for every politician, soldier, athlete, artist and beauty queen,” wrote Findlay High School senior Haley Haas, who read her winning “What the American Flag Means to Me” essay at Maple Grove Cemetery. “It waves for the mother who gets up in the night to meet her crying baby and the father who walks in the door every evening from a day of hard work. It waves for the kids learning how to count in preschool, for the children figuring out who they are and who they want to be during early education, and for the high school and college students who are studying for a bright future.”
“The flag waves for every race and culture that this country will be fortunate enough to embrace into our melting pot,” Haas wrote.
Cemetery visitors on Monday visited the graves of relatives, veterans, firefighters, and fallen war heroes.
Mayor Lydia Mihalik said she thinks Memorial Day should be observed every day in Flag City.
While the meaning of the day has broadened, the sacrifices of military veterans, particularly the deceased, were emphasized Monday, as always.
Some parade vehicles displayed names and photos, paying tribute to loved ones who fought in wars and died.
State Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, noted that American citizens “have a wonderful heritage of personal freedom and liberty” because of the many sacrifices of veteran and active military personnel.
Ron Dutton, a Korean War veteran and guest speaker on Monday, said more than 4,800 veterans are buried in Maple Grove Cemetery, which he called “hallowed ground.”
During the past three and a half years, the Hancock County Veterans Memorial Squad, which Dutton is a member of, has taken part in graveside services for 203 World War II veterans, 121 Korean War veterans, 93 Vietnam War veterans, and 21 veterans who served during peacetime, he said.
Prior to the parade, at the North Main Street bridge over the Blanchard River, wreaths to honor veterans, and a red rose for those still missing in action, were tossed into the water.