YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Memorial Day is a day for Americans to pause and honor the brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while defending the freedom of their fellow Americans.
Local communities in the area held events on Monday to pay their respects.
In Trumbull County, a Memorial Day parade started at noon at Perkins Park.
Families lined the streets as marching bands, antique cars and fire trucks all traveled past the Trumbull County Veterans Memorial and through the Courthouse Square area.
Earlier in Warren, dozens participated in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the Mahoning River, just behind the Warren Community Amphitheatre.
The wreath symbolizes the journey of the veterans who lost their lives while serving or who are missing in action.
In Niles, the community honored fallen servicemen and women by paying their respect at the Niles City Cemetery.
The Niles high school marching band played and distinguished guests gave words of reflection to show respect for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The speaker of the event was Robert Marino Sr., a veteran who serves on the Trumbull County Veterans Service Commission.
“We served our country, we served our families, and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Marino said.
A parade was also held Monday morning in Warren, followed by a service at the Tomb of Unknowns at Oakwood Cemetery.
In Boardman, the 32nd annual Memorial Mile took place.
Runners started at the intersection of Market Street and US-224 and ran for one mile to Boardman Park, right past the Southern Park Mall. People lined the street in patriotic colors to cheer the runners on.
Kids 14 and under ran the first race. The winner even lost his shoe during the run and still ended up on top. Then, older kids and adults ran the second race.
Many of the runners said they’ve been training for weeks for the race.
“Honoring the veterans that gave us all this freedom,” said runner Nathan Bero.
“As a culture, [we] tend to forget what Memorial Day is all about,” said head FasKids coach Tom Grantonic. “We would like to bring focus to that and remember those who have payed the ultimate sacrifice for us.”
The 119th annual parade started at 10 a.m., following the same route as the runners. Kids collected candy from walkers and floats sponsored by organizations and businesses. Boardman police and fire departments were there, too.
“My favorite thing about the parade is the Boardman band and all the different floats that go through, and just seeing everyone here and supporting Memorial Day,” said Collin Mertz, of Boardman.
Then, the Memorial Day service was held at the Maag Outdoor Arts Theatre at Boardman Township Park, coordinated by the Boardman-Youngstown Kiwanis Club and the township’s Park.
A variety of different speakers gave thoughtful messages, including the memorial message from Congressman Bill Johnson. There were also music performances by the Boardman High School Choral Music Department and Wind Ensemble.
For many people in the crowd, this day of remembrance is near and dear to their hearts.
“My father was in the navy, so of course I feel it every year, but my neighbor’s son, who I knew from the time he was real little, died in Iraq,” said Margi Barr, of Boardman. “It would take such nerve just to go and do what they do so, I appreciate all of that.”
Over in Mercer County, Memorial Day events started early Monday morning with music, followed by the annual 5k Mercer Memorial 500.
Organizers say their vision for the day is to remind everyone of the costly price of freedom.
After the race, it was time for the annual parade.
Veterans groups say seeing crowds show up to watch is important to them. They want to make sure the true meaning of this day doesn’t fade.
“I come from a history [of service],” said Keith McCoy, of Mercer. “My dad served, my uncles served, my grandfather served, I served in the military. It’s a great way of honoring those who sacrificed so much for freedoms we enjoy today.”
After the parade through town, there was a memorial service in the Mercer Citizens Cemetery to honor the sacrifices of local veterans.
Nationally, President Joe Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Biden, the First Lady, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman, participated in the event. After the ceremony, the president delivered his Memorial Day address.
Nick Rich contributed to this report.