FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, the Allen County Council of Veterans Organizations held its annual Memorial Day parade.
“It’s touching,” said Mark Cowan, who served during the Vietnam era. “It breaks my heart to know that people had to die for this, but to see the turnout at Allen County, the people that showed up on the parade route today, it was amazing.”
Cowan was one of many at the parade who served the country. He wanted to remind the public about what Memorial Day is really about— honoring the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
“We can be free to do what we want to do, go where we want, say what we want,” said Cowan. “That’s a big thing that a lot of countries don’t have, and in America we have that right because of those that sacrificed their lives.”
The parade started at North Side High School and travelled up to the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. This year’s theme was “Honoring our Fallen Vietnam Veterans.”
Others said during the parade, the memory of the fallen loomed in their minds.
“I just think a lot of people might not realize how much of a sacrifice it is,” said Matthew David, a cadet from Concordia High School. “So, it’s great to realize that all of these people are thanking them and remembering them.”
“I really just I think of them,” said Melinda Pagel, who served the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center as a nurse. “I think of just in so many ways, how I wish they were still here. Many of them are very very young.”
Pagel said she doesn’t think the public is aware of how many suffer from cancer as a direct result of their service. She said during an 18-month span, she witnessed more than 30 service members pass away from either cancer, or something cancer-related.
According to her, many of those deaths came from veterans only in their twenties.