In East Helena, hundreds of folks came out to honor fallen services members at the community’s annual Memorial Day parade. Our Bliss Zechman stood on the street with patrons, all of whom were there to honor vets in their own way.
Members from the VFW, Sheriff's Department, Girl Scouts and more marched together in solidarity for the men and women who gave everything for their country.
"I always go back to god, country and family, that is the cornerstone of America,” said Tom Johnson, a veteran and organizer for the event.
Memorial Day is a solemn day of reflection and remembrance. Many visit cemeteries to commemorate the holiday. However, Johnson says we should celebrate because we have the privilege of doing so.
"We celebrate that fact even though the sad part is, people die, long story short, it’s because of that we have the freedoms we enjoy today," said Johnson.
The parade is a longstanding tradition in East Helena. They have been trooping down main street with flags and drums on memorial day for more than 60 years. One native, Lucille Stump, has made an appearance at almost every single one.
"It’s a special day that you just take time to honor those people and to come up here and honor all of your friends that you knew too," said Stump.
The newest generation is also catching the patriotic spirit. First time parade goers Grace and Finn Harrington say the parade really made a bang.
"it was loud, but I liked it," said Grace.
"My favorite part was the cannon too," said Finn.
their dad, Brendan Harrington, says it’s important for the community to get their kids involved in such traditions and observations. This was the family's first year at the parade, but it won't be the last.
"It’s always a good day to come down and see folks in small towns like Montana that seem to over represent themselves and the veteran forces. So, we're glad we were all able to come down and see it today," said Harrington.
The Helena community isn't done commemorating fallen members of the armed forces. Two more events will be held Wednesday May 30.