Imagine refusing to march in a Memorial Day parade.
It's difficult because in the 40-plus years Dundee Township has staged its Memorial Day parade, no politician, merchant, or veteran has refused to walk along Main Street with comrades and neighbors.
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"Through the years we've had a few people say they would march with us, but never showed up," said DeLoris Doederlein, a longtime parade organizer. "They probably got busy with something else, but who wouldn't want to march in the parade?"
For her and many people across the country, marching with veterans and displaying the American Flag to cheering spectators shows pride in the country and gratitude to living and deceased soldiers.
"It's also an opportunity to educate children to show respect for the flag and the day along with people who fought for this country," she said.
This year's township Memorial Day parade will provide plenty of opportunities for that education, and it will have no lack of enthusiasm from local groups and politicians, said Bobbie Andresen, current organizer.
"We have 50 units registered," she said. "They include veterans, politicians, Boy and Girl Scout troops and two marching bands from Dundee-Crown High School and Carpentersville Middle School. We'll be honoring a World War II veteran (Jack Roeser) and others who have served in the military. "
The parade will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in East Dundee. The units will march west along Main Street to Cal Grafelman Park in West Dundee where a ceremony will be held.
"I have been coordinating this parade for years and people have always been so supportive of it," Andresen said. "A lot of people want to march in it, and a lot of people want to watch it."
The parade may be the centerpiece of the weekend, but it certainly will not be the only event which Dundee Township residents readily take part in. A day before the parade, local Boy Scouts will walk through Dundee Township Cemetery East and place American Flags on veterans' graves.
Other veterans place flags on graves in Dundee Township Cemetery West on Route 31 in West Dundee.
On Monday, Memorial Day, local veterans participate in ceremonies at the Route 72 bridge over the Fox River at 10 a.m. Then, they go to River Valley Memorial Gardens, along Route 31 just north of I-90, for a ceremony at 11:30 a.m.
The Rev. Jim Murr of Bethlehem Lutheran Church of West Dundee will give an address. The Tri-City Evergreen Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2298 and Auxiliary will participate in the half-hour service, which will honor 1,020 veterans buried at the cemetery.
The soloist will be Penny Mensik. Lt. Col. Ernest Gross (retired), a volunteer bugler with Bugles Across America, will participate with the national anthem and taps. Josh Cunningham, a bagpiper with the Dundee Scottish Pipe Band, will perform. Cemetery staff and volunteers will place U.S. flags on veteran graves. For details, call (847) 426-3031 or visit rivervalleymemorialgardens.com.