GALION — After being delayed and downsized a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Galion Memorial Day observance is expected to proceed as usual in 2021.
“It wasn’t the regular Memorial Day parade we have every year,” said Pam Cole, co-chair of the organizing committee along with Jim Brocklesby. “We didn’t have the kids participating or as many groups. We had the color guard, a couple of floats, and motorcycles. And we changed the route. We went out to (Heise Park) and the memorial there to give people a chance to stop and place a wreath.”
Cole said the parade will return to its regular route this year.
“We start at the American Legion (118 S. Market St.) every year,” she said. “We’ll go east on Harding Way and stop at the police department and do a salute and place a wreath there. Then we’ll continue on and go over to Fairview and march out to the cemetery.”
Col. William Suver, a veteran of the United States Army who enlisted in 1983, is the keynote speaker for this year’s ceremony, Cole said. He is an alumnus of Galion High School who now resides in Ironton, Ohio. Suver served as a member of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. Following his retirement, he continued working with the West Virginia National Guard.
The grand marshal of the Memorial Day parade is Pvt. Drake Garrett, a member of the Ohio Army National Guard and a Galion High School alumnus. Garrett, who was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma, stage four brain cancer, last September, was recommended by members of the local AMVETS to be the parade grand marshal along with his mother, Ruthie Henry. It’s one of the items on the young man’s bucket list, Cole said.
Parade participants will line up at 9 a.m. at the American Legion and the event steps off at 10 a.m., Cole said.
Cole noted that organizers have extended invitations to area nursing homes that may want to take their residents who are veterans to see the ceremony at Fairview.
“We will make room for their buses at the cemetery where they can see and hear without having to disembark from the bus,” she said. “Then we’ll also take a count of how many are on the buses so we can serve them a box lunch. That way they don’t have to leave the bus and be in the crowds.”
Cole said volunteers place about 1,400 U.S. flags on graves at Fairview Cemetery and Mount Calvary Catholic Cemetery.
Following the ceremony at Fairview Cemetery, a dinner will be served at the American Legion on South Market Street.