NILES, Ohio (WKBN) – People in Niles gathered Monday at the city’s cemetery to pay tribute to fallen soldiers in true Memorial Day fashion.
American Legion Post 106 sponsored the event and placed flags on more than 2,000 veterans’ graves.
“Today, we have approximately 550 to 600 veterans in this lot alone, and throughout the city cemetery probably another 1,200, roughly,” said American Legion Commander Rocco Bowell.
The Niles McKinley High School Band performed several patriotic tunes, including hymns for each branch of the military.
“It’s very important that we remember our fallen. Freedom isn’t free. These men are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq for our freedom for us to be able to have these picnics and to kick off our summer vacations,” Bowell said.
The event ended with Mike Wilson acting as President William McKinley, giving the same speech the former president gave at the Antietam National Battlefield in 1900 on Decoration Day.
“Considering what happened during the Vietnam era with our returning soldiers, I am extremely proud to have the community and our country come together,” said veteran Ralph Sharpe.
The ceremony was touching, and a lot of the veterans said it was very emotional for them.
“We just certainly respect them, love them and we will be there forever,” said Niles Mayor Thomas Scarnecchia.