From the field: A Memorial Day to remember

>Memorial Day is viewed by many as the traditional start of summer. People have long awaited the holiday weekend as a chance to get out and enjoy the weather and spend time with family. But the real purpose for this holiday is to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans.

Today’s guest post comes from Marine Science Technician Third Class Benjamin Martin, from Marine Safety Unit Chicago. MST3 Martin and fellow Coast Guard shipmates from the MSU, Station Calumet Harbor, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary spent the day in a display of service pride for one of the country’s largest Memorial Day Parades, which is held annually along the streets of Chicago.

Here are his observations on the event.

“On May 23, 2009, I, along with officers and enlisted personnel of MSU Chicago, Station Calumet Harbor and the Coast Guard Auxiliary took part in the Annual Chicago Memorial Day Parade.

(Right: Crewmembers from MSU Chicago, Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Ill., and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary march in the Chicago Memorial Day Parade, May 23, 2009. The parade included representatives from all branches of the armed services and is one of the biggest Memorial Day celebrations in the United States. U.S. Coast Guard photo/PA3 George Degener)

When I first arrived at our designated staging area I must admit it was an awe-inspiring sight. There were JROTC members, Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Marines, and even parade onlookers everywhere. It was really a spectacular sight.

The public, in all its masses, were pushed off the designated parade route into the parade staging areas, just so they could get a better view of all the different organizations on display.

Once the parade got underway we marched out of the shadows of the staging area, and onto State Street where the sun revealed an anxious crowd of 10,000 men, women, and children. I have to be honest, I was excited.

(Left: Crewmembers from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Ill. and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary march in the Memorial Day Parade here, May 23, 2009. The parade included representatives from all branches of the armed services and is one of the biggest Memorial Day celebrations in the United States. U.S. Coast Guard photo/PA3 George Degener)

For eight blocks the United States Coast Guard was front and center in the country’s largest Memorial Day Parade. Did I mention I was excited?

(Right: Lt. Cmdr. Sean Brady, Executive Officer of Marine Safety Unit Chicago, shakes hands with a representative of the Merchant Marines after a joint-service wreath laying ceremony in honor of Memorial Day at Daley Plaza here, May 23, 2009. The ceremony included members from all branches of the armed services, and veterans representing servicemembers missing in action and those that were held as prisoners of war. U.S. Coast Guard photo/PA3 George Degener)

People cheered, said ‘Thank You,’ and waived American Flags. You feel a level of pride that is hard to describe. Its overwhelming, you just can’t help but smile.

MST3 Benjamin B. Martin
Marine Safety Unit Chicago
Burr Ridge, IL”

While Chicagoe residents were thanking our crews for their service, the real reason we should all thank the Guardians from MSU Chicago, Station Calumet Harbor and our Auxiliary is because they took the time out of their busy schedules to remind the country why we observe this sacred holiday. Bravo Zulu, shipmates!

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