From parade to ceremony: Community comes together to pay respects to fallen military members on Memorial Day

Ceremony at Vietnam Veterans Memorial

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of those who came out to cheer, wave American flags, and pay their respects to our fallen military members.

Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day has its origins in the years following the Civil War in Waterloo, Seneca County. But in 1971, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday and falls on the last Monday in May each year. Since then, parades have become a staple part of the holiday tradition.

People News10NBC’s Bret Vetter spoke with say they were ready to come out Monday morning – rain or shine. Each with their own reason why this day means so much to them.

“It causes me to think of the 58,000 plus that we lost in Vietnam, plus what we lost in World War I, World War II,” said Paul Vary, an Army veteran, as he began to cry.

Another parade attendee shared, “Memorial Day means to me, my father. He’s a veteran and he fought for this country. Veterans are needed. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Fighting for our country.”

Later in the day Vietnam veterans gathered for a ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Highland Park and shared what veterans want the community to know on this special day.

Francis Holiday expressed, “That’s what Memorial Day means to me. It’s demanding that we are treated with respect. It’s demanding that our rights are met.”

At the ceremony, an honor guard carrying the flag made its way toward the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where people from across the area gathered to support each other and honor the fallen.

“There is a remembrance of my brother Rex who was killed in Vietnam so we come up every year to honor him. He’s buried in Arlington Cemetery but we have come up here every year since this memorial has been here,” said Peter Dewispelaere.

According to the National Archives, more than 58,000 service members died during the Vietnam War.

Rochester pays respects during annual Memorial Day parade

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