Hundreds gathered under sunny skies Monday at Cleveland Street Cemetery for the Amherst Memorial Day parade.
“We love coming down every year,” said Jodi Phelan as her family watched veterans march. “My favorite part is the service in the cemetery. I cry every year and did again this year when they played ‘Taps.’ That’s really emotional. The kids are finding out what this is all about too. My brother-in-law recently served but he is home now, safe and sound. We’re very thankful for that.”
John Pena, commander of Amherst VFW Post 1662, launched the event with a somber and poignant reminder of the sacrifices of fallen U.S. servicemen and women.
“These graves echo the glory of valiant deeds,” he said. “Under the quiet sod their bodies sleep in peace, but their souls go marching on. Because of them, our lives are free. Because of them, our nation lives. When we recall things they did, we see them as heroes who are mighty in our midst. When their country called, they left their paths of peace to spring to arms.”
Ron Sams of Lorain also took young children to the ceremony for an early lesson on sacrifice.
“We’re proud of the people we’ve lost and a reminder of that is always a good thing,” he said. “My cousin from San Diego is here today too and it’s great to have all of our kids watching at once.”
The parade down Forest Street included representation from the VFW, American Legion, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, as well as area churches and youth baseball programs.
Pena closed his speech by emphasizing the importance of supporting families of fallen veterans.
“Let us not forget the loved ones left behind,” he said. “Our tears or words of sympathy cannot bring back the comfort of those loving hands or the music of their voices… Comrades, on this Memorial Day, let us pledge ourselves anew to patriotic service. Let us make ourselves a friend to those who won’t see their own again in mortal flesh.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.