October 1, 2014

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Memorial Day events honor fallen soldiers

Nancy Clark, a member of the AMVETS Auxiliary, places a white carnation in a planter as names of veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2013 are read aloud. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

Nancy Clark, a member of the AMVETS Auxiliary, places a white carnation in a planter as names of veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2013 are read aloud. ANNA NORRIS/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — Words can never fully express the sacrifices of America’s war dead or the gratitude owed them.

However, speakers at a Sunday tribute said they hope Americans will remember who Memorial Day is for on a holiday known for ballgames, picnics and a day off from work. Speaker Dan Gillotti paid tribute to all of the dead, but singled out those killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and their survivors.

Through Thursday, 2,320 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense. In Iraq, 4,423 were killed.

“We are so proud of them today for their sacrifices,” said Gillotti, a former Army 1st sergeant and Vietnam War combat veteran. “Remember them in your hearts and in your prayers, and remember them also when they return back home to us.”

Mayor Chase Ritenauer said a January jog through Eric Barnes Heroes Walk, a trail honoring the five Lorain-born men killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, gave him greater appreciation of the sacrifices of men and women of his generation. Ritenauer, 29, recalled playing kick the can and other sports as a boy with Joseph “Ryan” Giese.

Giese, a 24-year-old Marine lance corporal, was killed in 2011 in Afghanistan. “Let’s make sure we never forget and we take the power of today’s ceremony with us into all of the other days of the year,” Ritenauer said.

Ritenauer saluted Lorain and Lorain County veterans for commemorating the dead and improving conditions for survivors. There are about 1.3 million military members, according to the Department of Defense.

In a nation of about 316 million, that’s about 0.4 percent. Critics say that’s led to a disconnection between civilians and soldiers.

But there are about 28,000 veterans in Lorain County, according to the Lorain County Veterans Service Commission. That’s about 9 percent of the roughly 303,000 county residents. Local veterans and their families are active and vocal.

“That who’s here today,” speaker Sam Felton Jr. told the audience of about 100 people at the Lorain Palace Theatre. “For those of us in this audience, we truly understand what Memorial Day really is.”

Felton quoted from President James Garfield’s 1868 speech as a Union general on the first Memorial Day, then called Decoration Day. Garfield said the Civil War dead had “made immortal their patriotism and virtue.”

Felton asked audience members to keep alive the sacrifices of the dead. “Some time, sit down and tell someone younger than yourself or maybe listen to someone older about why we have a Memorial Day,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.


  • tickmeoff

    I still remember the stories my Dad told me about Italy, and how the land was terraced. Memorial day is and will always be special. I was lucky to have enjoyed many of them with him, unlike the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice.Enjoy your memorial day veterans and thank you.

  • Simon Jester

    To absent friends…

  • Joe Smith

    Thanks for your service vets!

  • B4CE

    I know this has been addressed in the past, but I would like to appeal to the organizers of Lorain’s MEMORIAL Day parade. This should be a patriotic, more somber event, remembering our war dead. The men and women that died in our names to preserve our ideals.
    The International parade can be as full of booty shaking bass wagons, towing companies, bike riders, ect as you’d like. But the MEMORIAL Day parade should be limited to vets, veteran groups, civil and civic organizations and the two local bands.
    Please consider what the intent of the parade is, who it is designed to honor and adjust the entry policies accordingly. Thank you!

  • grannyof6

    To B4CE, the Memorial Day parade is a day of memories for all of the people who have lost someone near and dear to them. Yes, it is to remember our fallen military but if they made the parade just a “Patriotic” there wouldn’t be much of a parade. If you were there and happened to notice all the Military who did participate are the older generation, the much older generation. Some of those men carried the “Colors” for quite a distance. The men who rode on the “Purple Heart” float are also older and mostly disabled. Anna May Proy who is 89 yrs. old climbed up on that fire truck would you have expected her to walk it? The military organizations who participated in this parade felt it was very “Patriotic” and were very happy about the 50 or so units who where there to remember, show respect and honor all of the “fallen”. Not everyone has to be in the Military to be remembered. Maybe you should organize the next one and you’ll see just what it takes to get this event to come together. Thank you Lorain for the wonderful turnout and remembering whoever you wanted to remember. “Everybody Loves A Parade”

    • Bob

      “Not everyone has to be in the Military to be remembered.”

      Memorial Day is about REMEMBERING the FALLEN military brothers and sisters. Not a national picnic day as it has become.

      I agree with B4CE. The parades (even is they are small) should be about honoring the Military past, present and future. You want a picnic. Wait until July 4th, then have your picincs

    • B4CE

      Granny, while I appreciate your response, you are incorrect, Memorial Day was established in the 1800′s to honor fallen Union soldiers. It is not ok with me for you to bastardize the day in any other way.
      If you read my post carefully, you will see that I included CIVIC and SERVICE organizations, which usually include many former members of our armed forces. This was intended to be a Somber occasion, not one to say ” look at me”. In fact, the very premise of the “look at me” ride a bike or shake my booty, or the business I started goes against every thing the military stands for.
      Anna May certainly has earned the right to ride in an old fire truck during this sacred day. Tax services, bass wagons, little girls shaking their booty, and little boys riding their bikes have not. For everyone that loves a parade, the International Parade is the proper place to show how a proper “Crookalette” shakes her booty. It’s ok to show off/ advertise your new business in the International Parade. The International is a great way to bring attention to a much needed skate park.
      Yesterday was not that day. Yesterday was a day to remember our fallen soldiers!

    • Simon Jester

      “Not everyone has to be in the Military to be remembered”

      You’re an idiot.

      Do you even understand how Memorial Day works?

    • B4CE

      Granny, after rereading your post I see why you are being so defensive. I was not trying to offend you, nor was I trying to minimize the extraordinary effort that goes into organizing an event like this. I don’t take that for granted.
      Please take my comments as constructive criticism. For every two vets that said told you they loved the parade, I heard one say “never again”( meaning they would never attend the Lorain Memorial Parade again.

      The straw that broke the camel’s back was the veterans group that had brought up the rear of the parade, well behind the step squad and bass wagon. Many that I spoke to felt this was blatantly disrespectful.

      The one young man stated something to the affect of,” I had friends die in my arms over there, & I don’t feel worthy of marching in this parade, but they have bass wagons, bikes and businesses that feel entitled to march!” He was almost in tears.
      So while almost everyone loves a parade, EVERYONE loves breathing, and Monday was the day to honor our soldiers that no longer are.
      Thank you for your careful reconsideration of entries next year.

      • grannyof6

        I am not the organizer of the parade but if I was those veterans who had to bring up the rear would have never been placed there. Whoever did the line up should have never allowed for business’s to use this for their own gain. The “bass wagon” I didn’t see it either. As far as the bikes they would have been told “sorry but not in this parade”. I agree with you as far as constructive criticism and I was being a little defensive as we are a true military family. I can tell you the actual line up fell apart before the parade even began. Sorry for the misunderstanding of your original post.

        • B4CE

          Thank you and your family for your service. Our family has served at least four generations. Our son is presently following the proud tradition.

          With less than 2% of Americans serving in the Armed Forces, it’s easy to understand why so few people were upset by the undeserving entrants, because they don’t know any better. That’s why Memorial Day is one of two days(Vet Day in Nov) where there should be no room for interpretation of what theses holidays mean.

          We seem to be on the same page. The only real difference is I observed the entire parade, you brought up the rear, behind the questionable entries. My wife was the first to point out that she thought it was a disgrace for your group to be placed in the rear.
          While eternally grateful to the organizers for their tireless efforts, I agree with you, bikers bass wagons & businesses shouldn’t ask to be in the parade. And if they do, they should be told, “not this parade”