ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Thousands of people lined the streets of the Forest City to honor the men and women who fought and died in the service of securing our country’s freedom on Monday, for Rockford’s annual Memorial Day parade.
Marine Corps veteran Karen Orertel said, “We’re all family. All of us our family.”
It’s a message of unity for all veterans, both alive and dead, for the annual parade.
High school marching bands, Rockford Police, and Rockford Fire rolled down E. State Street before gathered onlookers.
Oertel has walked in the parade twice, and says for her, it’s personal.
“I’m paying homage to my fallen brothers and sisters, all of the conflicts and wars that have ever taken place, and I want to bring awareness to everybody that it’s not just men, it’s women, too,” she said.
Mark Broman is a Scout Master for Cub Scouts of America Troop 123. He has participated in 25 parades so far, and says he’s paying tribute to his family, many of whom served in the military.
“My grandfather, my father, and my brother were all in the military and I think we need to pay them respect,” he said.
Aiden Steingeraeber, a Star Scout with Troop 123, agrees, “It’s an important day and I think we need to encourage it, and it’s just a fun day, you know? It’s a parade. Everyone likes parades.”
Browman says it’s important to remember the men and women who’ve sacrificed their lives to keep America safe.
“I think that it shows respect for the people who have fought for this country and died and made this country what it is today,” Browman said. “It makes me feel good that the people of Rockford and the surrounding community still think it’s important to come out here and honor the folks that fought for this country.”