Ed Waspi, a World War II veteran, chokes back tears while watching the Memorial Day Parade in Twin Lakes Monday.
TWIN LAKES – Ed Waspi couldn’t hold back the tears Monday as he watched military veterans march by him during the annual Twin Lakes Memorial Day Parade.
“The parade makes me think of my fellow comrades and how I wish I could see some of them again,” he said, brushing at his eyes.
A pilot, Waspi flew a B-24 Liberator while stationed in England during World War II and flew 30 missions. For him, attending Memorial Day services is a necessary means to honor those who paid the ultimate price.
“I am happy to see a lot of people at the parade,” he said. “This day is for honoring people in service – or at least it should be.”
Waspi, of Twin Lakes, was among hundreds who lined Legion Drive for the morning parade, which featured members of the military, police, fire and rescue departments, political officials, Scouting groups and local school bands.
Dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, 10-year-old Shanna Smith of Twin Lakes said she knew the parade was about much more than getting candy.
“This is an important day,” she said, petting her dog, Coco. “We are here to remember all the soldiers who passed away during the wars.”
Prior to the parade at St. John’s Cemetery, members of American Legion Post 544, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Twin Lakes Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts Troop 343 honored the men and women who lost their lives during combat.
A wreath was placed at the veterans’ plaque in the cemetery in memory of those who died during war.
Memorial Day is a reminder to honor our servicemen and women, decorate their graves, profess a profound love of our country, and honor the soldiers’ sacred memories, said Joe Nilles, American Legion post commander during the post-parade ceremony.
“We often take our freedom for granted, but if it were not for the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice, we would not be here today,” he said, adding, “Eighty-nine of Wisconsin’s finest paid that ultimate price for the current war on terror and 15 of them just this year.”
Row upon row of white crosses marked with flags at the American Legion post seems to bring home the true meaning of Memorial Day and the debt of gratitude we owe to those who gave everything. For Nilles, it is all about the meaning of sacrifice.
“It is our duty to remember and to keep that memory alive for our future generations,” he said.