Memorial Day ceremony and parade pay tribute to fallen and wounded veterans

Hundreds gathered at Daley Plaza this morning to pay respects to the fallen and support those who came back from war wounded.

Alderman James Balcer, 11th, a Marine himself, was the first of many here to mention the current scandal involving excessive wait times for medical appointments at the Veterans Health Administration.

“We remember those who died for our country,” Balcer said. “Something should and must be done to help our veterans. Clear up the mess, make sure our veterans are treated with respect.”

The ceremony honored Jim Frazier, who works with Gold Star families, those who have lost a loved one in war. Frazier knows the pain; his son, Staff Sgt. Jacob Frazier, was killed 11 years ago.

“I get up every morning and I think about what I can do to make him proud,” Jim Frazier said. “I think he would be today.”

At the parade, 6,000 Junior ROTC cadets from Chicago Public Schools marched down State Street, along with veterans. Thousands lined the route of the nation’s largest Memorial Day parade, many of whom came to remember their fallen heroes.

“We’re here because we have lost our loved ones, but we are in solidarity with the veterans,” said Anna Ware, the mother of Sgt. Albert Ware, who died in Afghanistan in 2009. “It’s the only place I don’t have to explain; we all have the same pain.”

It was Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran, who brought perspective to this Memorial Day weekend, honoring those who died in war the and families they left behind.

“There’s not a day when I don’t get up and say a prayer of thanks for my life and for theirs. Nothing that I do is without them,” she said as she wiped away a tear.

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