MOUNT VERNON — Warm weather and clear skies brought out a large crowd Monday to the annual Mount Vernon Memorial Day Parade. Lawn chairs lined East High Street down to East Vine Street, and eager parade watchers wearing red, white and blue waved their flags as the groups marched by, Grand Marshal Ray McFadden leading the way.
The high-energy event ended with a solemn and reflective service at the Knox County Memorial Building.
This year’s emcee, George Curry, U.S. Army veteran and president of the Veterans Service Commission, greeted the crowd and encouraged them to look at the holiday as more than just a day marking the beginning of summer.
“We must remind ourselves that those that died in uniform are not just names on marble or stone in a park. They left behind grieving families and a legacy of service that all Americans should aspire. Keep focus on why we celebrate this day,” Curry said.
U.S. Army veteran and a member of the Knox County Veterans Service commission Wilson Warner led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance and Mount Vernon High School senior Abby Baker sang the National Anthem to start the service.
The Knox Heritage Singers sang a few patriotic songs, ending with a song about the U.S. Constitution, which acted as a segue to the keynote speech that highlighted the importance of the document.
Keynote speaker Judge Rick Wetzel encouraged the crowd that gathered around the Memorial Building steps to honor and defend the nation’s constitution the same way veterans did before us in order to protect the future of the U.S. He also emphasized the importance of voting, and reminded the crowd that the future of the country is in their hands.
“You are all patriots with the greatest authority; the ballot box,” Wetzel said.
The service ended with a rifle salute from AmVets Memorial Post 95 led by Jerry Robinson, U.S. Army veteran and Veteran Service commissioner.
The raising of the flags was conducted by the Knox County Career Center JROTC.
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