The weather early Monday morning was dismal, but the cold temperatures and drizzle didn’t stop Sheryl and Charles Hillier from watching the parade.
With a son serving in the Air Force, the Hilliers said they believed it was their duty to attend the DeKalb Memorial Day Parade to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“This weather being so dismal is nothing compared to the sacrifices they faced during all of those wars ... and this goes way back to the Revolutionary War as well,” said Sheryl Hillier. “To see the hardships they’ve gone through, this is nothing.”
On Monday across the United States, communities such as DeKalb and Sycamore paid tribute to men and women who died while serving in the armed services. In both DeKalb and Sycamore, members of the community listened to speeches about patriotism and the obligation to honor those who died in the service.
At the Ellwood House in DeKalb, Park District President Phil Young quoted Robert Ingersoll, a Civil War veteran who became one of the more distinguished orators in American history.
In the crowded Sycamore Veterans Club, Michael Hermes, a high school junior, spoke at the Memorial Day program as the winner of Sycamore Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Voice of Democracy contest.
Hermes spoke about how the U.S. Constitution – which every member of the armed services swears to support and defend – has remained relatively static over time.
“The Constitution was not created solely to govern technology and economics. It was created to govern man,” Hermes said. “While everything in the world has changed since the creation of the United States, the basic logic of man has not. The basic structure of government has not. And that is why the Constitution has not either.”
In years past, Bill Adams, an Army veteran, marched in each Memorial Day parade as a member of the honor guard. Now approaching the age of 85, Adams stood on the sidelines for DeKalb’s parade.
“It’s been a big honor to keep the United States free,” said Adams, who served in Europe and Korea from 1951 to 1953.
Sycamore resident Mike Blakeslee said he was very close to being drafted years ago before the process was stopped. While he was out to watch his grandson Nick march in the parade, Blakeslee said he knew a lot of people who served.
“There are a lot of people who have worked very hard and sacrificed a lot of stuff to make things good for these little guys,” Blakeslee said. “And so we say thanks.”