ALTON, IL (KPLR) – This year marked the 150th anniversary for the Alton Memorial Day Parade. The parade was complete with marching bands and lots of waving of Old Glory. Flags were everywhere; small ones, large ones, and giant ones.
“It’s a good day to remember those veterans who passed on and those that are still here fighting for our country,” said Kristina Mays, parade attendee.
Alton’s parade is the nation’s longest continuously running Memorial Day parade. It’s a point of pride for this community.
“People talk about this event year round we have a very active AMVETS and a very active VFW hall here in Alton, so they are very ingrained in our community,” Alton Mayor Brant Walker said.
Memorial Day began around the U.S. Civil War, although it did not officially become a federal holiday until 1971. It is the day to remember those who died protecting our country and freedoms. Veteran Bill Francis said if troops didn’t give their lives, “Where would we be at today? We would be under somebody else’s ruling for sure.”
Jim McFarlane’s two brothers served in Vietnam and saw too many deaths.
“They were both in Medevac 101st Airborne medical evacuation, so they saw a lot of loss of life that did change them some for the good some for the worse,” he said.
The parade entry that may have received the loudest applause honored St. Louis County Police Officer Blake Snyder who was killed in the line of duty last October. He was from the Alton area. The mayor said Snyder played sports in local parks.
“He served well it’s a shame we lost such a great young man like him,” Walker said.
The mayor said the city plans to name a street in one of the parks in Alton to honor Officer Snyder.