Parade organizer says Memorial Day is “unconditional love”

Photo from the 2014 Memorial Day Parade

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) On Monday, the streets around the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum will be lined with people honoring veterans who lost their life while in military service.

Fort Wayne’s Memorial Day Parade is an annual tradition reaching back more than 40 years. First Vice Commander of the Allen County Council of Veterans Gerard Willis was on NewsChannel15’s First News Sunday show to talk about the parade.

The parade started at 11 a.m. at the corner of Parnell and State Boulevard. It ended at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.  After the parade there was a ceremony just outside the Coliseum’s Memorial Hall.

“Memorial Day is unconditional love, in a sense,” Willis said.  “What we have are veterans who have stood on the line and given their life so that we can have the freedom we have today.”

Willis described the service men and women he works with as amazing. “We’re giving [a parade] to them whether they want it or not.”

To watch Willis’ full interview, play the video above.

Several law enforcement agencies, veteran friendly organizations and other groups including the boy and girl scouts are participating in the parade.

While the parade is a good way to honor the people who served our country, Willis also wants this parade to serve as a connection between the community and military veterans. He also noted that the parade has decreased significantly in the past few years.

“It actually used to be a lot bigger than it is now, and it has depleted. What we’re are trying to do is build it back up to what it actually used to be and make it bigger than it was before,” Willis said.

“People forget. People forget about all the sacrifices veterans have made and their loved ones have made. It’s just like if it’s not important,” he said. “If it’s not in the news right here, happening right now, then it’s not that big of a deal [to many people]. They don’t recognize the sacrifices that have put them in the position where they actually wake up in the morning and can breathe and say, ‘I’m free.’”

Willis is hoping people choose to make Monday a day to say thank you to veterans and remember the sacrifices so many have made for the cause of freedom.

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